People itching to eat at their favorite restaurant might be able to do so starting June 15 after the government decided to further ease restrictions for food establishments in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ).
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque announced that the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has allowed limited dine-in operations in restaurants.
Restaurants will be limited to seating 30% of their dine-in capacity starting June 15. The new rule can be found in the IATF's Resolution No 45.
"This is good news for all those people who miss eating in restaurants," said Roque on Thursday, June 11.
Before the new rule, dine-in at restaurants was allowed only in modified GCQ (MGCQ) areas, and only at 50% capacity.
Since mid-March, restaurants in Metro Manila have had to stop such services and were limited to take-out or deliveries.
While most of the country is already in MGCQ, several hubs, like Metro Manila, Cebu City, Mandaue City, Central Visayas, and Zamboanga City are under GCQ until June 15.
The task force has not finalized its recommendation on whether these places will enter into MGCQ on June 16, said Roque.
Restaurants will be ordered to implement health protocols like installing barriers between customer tables, regular disinfection of surfaces, and cashless payment systems.
Need to bring back jobs. Roque admitted that the further easing of rules on restaurants was because the government saw the need to bring back jobs of restaurant workers in places like Metro Manila.
"Well, there needs to be a balance. It's economic, because if I'm not mistaken, not less than 11,000 employees in Metro Manila alone work in restaurants," he said.
Metro Manila continues to see a rise in coronavirus cases. Roque himself said that COVID-19 is spreading at a faster rate here than in the rest of the country. The megacity has a case doubling time of 6 days (amount of time it takes for cases to double), while the nationwide rate is 10 days.
"We have very strict health standards... So as long as these protocols are followed, we think we should provide livelihood to resturants and those working at restaurants," he said.
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 email@example.com.