IATF OKs reopening restaurant dine-in under GCQ areas

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 11) — The COVID-19 task force has approved the recommendation to allow restaurants located in general community quarantine (GCQ) areas to partially resume dine-in services starting June 15, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said on Thursday.

The recommendations of the Inter-Agency Task Force will be presented to President Rodrigo Duterte, who has the final say. He is expected to announce his decision on this recommendation and the fate of community quarantine in the country on June 15.

Lopez said they came up with the recommendation to allow restaurants to gradually offer dine-in services to help workers who have been struggling due to strict stay-at-home rules.

"We are doing this essentially in the interest of workers so they can get back to work. We shall be doing this on a gradual basis starting at a 30 percent operating capacity," he told CNN Philippines.

The secretary added, "This is some kind of a preparation for the eventual de-escalation of Metro Manila and similar areas from GCQ to modified GCQ in the near future."

If approved, restaurants in Metro Manila, Pangasinan, Zamboanga City, Davao City and several cities and provinces in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and Central Visayas can start offering dine-in services starting June 15. Restaurants in other parts of the country under modified GCQ have been allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity.

Related: Restaurant dine-in operations can now resume in MGCQ areas, but no buffets

He said social distancing by spacing tables 1.5 meters apart and installing acrylic or clear barriers in between customers should be done. Other health protocols, such as wearing of masks and disinfection, must also be observed.

Restaurants and fast food stores have ceased accepting dine-in customers since March when strict quarantine measures were enforced to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease. The government is easing these restrictions as officials cite the need to reopen the economy.

Lopez said the gradual reopening of these establishments will help the workers and the country bring back its losses incurred during one of the longest community quarantine imposed all over the world.

"We are really working on reopening the economy, bringing back jobs. This is the only way that we can restart the economy. It is up to the government to find that healthy balance, bringing back jobs while making sure the health protocols are complied with so we can still avert any spread and transmission of COVID-19. We don't want to lose the gains that we have enjoyed during the GCQ," he said.