IATF allows cinemas, game arcades to operate in GCQ areas

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 12) — The government is allowing the reopening of cinemas, game arcades, and other leisure activities in areas under general community quarantine, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Friday.

The Inter-Agency Task Force has also allowed driving schools; libraries, archives, museums, and cultural centers; meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions; theme parks and tourist attractions to resume operations. Social events can also be held in establishments accredited by the Department of Tourism.

Roque said the Department of Health, other concerned government agencies, and local government units will come up with guidelines, such as the required distancing in theaters and what kind of protective gear should be worn while watching movies.

The allowed capacity in cinemas has yet to be announced. In MGCQ areas, they are allowed to fill up 50% of the seats.

Roque said the improving trend of new COVID-19 cases in the country and the capability of hospitals to attend to patients are enough reasons to ease restrictions. He added this decision was also influenced by the need to further reopen the economy.

"In other words, walang problema pagdating sa utilization rate. Alinsunod ito sa katotohanan na kailangan na natin magbukas pa ng ekonomiya dahil kinakailangan magkaroon ng karagdagang hanapbuhay," he said in a media briefing.

[Translation: In other words, there is no problem when it comes to utilization rate. There is also the reality that we need to open the economy because we need to have more jobs.]

Meanwhile, infectious diseases specialist Dr. Gene Solante emphasized he is not in favor of reopening cinemas, museums, and other leisure venues in GCQ areas.

Solante explained these places have ventilation problem, which may aggravate the spread of COVID-19.

"We consider these areas as high-risk because they are enclosed spaces. As long as they can assure us that there will be good air exchange and ventilation in these areas and strictly implement the number of people that will go there, we're fine with that," Solante said in an interview on CNN Philippines' The Final Word on Friday.

The infectious diseases expert advised the national government to prepare hospitals for possible COVID-19 cases surge, in light of the reopening of leisure establishments in GCQ areas.