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Gyms again banned from reopening in GCQ areas

The Philippine coronavirus task force took back its rule allowing gyms, drive-in cinemas, internet cafes, and pet grooming services to reopen under general community quarantine (GCQ).

"This IATF resolution has been deferred since we started MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) and is still deferred now that we are in GCQ," said testing czar Vince Dizon on Tuesday, August 18, during a virtual Malacañang press briefing.

IATF refers to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque provided more details later on, saying the deferment of the rules on allowing gyms was decided in a Cabinet meeting called by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea before they met with Duterte in the aftermath of the medical community's plea for a return to MECQ for Metro Manila on August 1.

"This meeting superseded the IATF Resolution approving gyms and internet cafes," said Roque.

The government had initially allowed gyms and the other types of establishments to open on August 1. This easing of restrictions was announced by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on July 29.

Aside from gyms, the other establishments initially allowed to operate again were drive-in cinemas, tutorial and review centers, internet cafes, establishments offering personal grooming and aesthetic services, and pet grooming services.

But Metro Manila, Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan, and Laguna were again placed under the stricter MECQ on August 4, meaning gyms were only allowed to reopen for 3 days.

On August 19, these areas are to be under GCQ again until August 31, but Roque said this form of GCQ would be "stricter" because of the steady rise in COVID-19 infections.

Experts in other countries previously warned that indoor gyms could increase transmissions because people would be breathing heavily, due to intense physical activity, within a confined space.

COVID-19 is spread through droplets from breathing or talking.

It's not clear when the government will again allow gyms in GCQ areas. They are currently allowed in the looser quarantine classification MGCQ.

Only 15 areas in the country are under GCQ while the rest are under MGCQ:

  • Metro Manila
  • Cavite
  • Bulacan
  • Rizal
  • Laguna
  • Nueva Ecija
  • Quezon
  • Batangas
  • Cebu City
  • Mandaue City
  • Lapu-Lapu City
  • Talisay City
  • Minglanilla
  • Consolacion
  • Iloilo City

– Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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