The days of dining in your favorite restaurants may be coming soon.
The COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has approved recommendations to gradually open restaurants for dine-in services, provided they are located in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ).
On Thursday, June 11, 2020, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said dine-in restaurants in GCQ areas may be allowed to operate at 30-percent capacity in the coming week.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, Sec. Lopez said this should help Filipino workers and the food and beverage sector recover from financial losses incurred since the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was implemented by the government.
The ECQ started on March 16 to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease.
"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," the secretary said.
Sec. Lopez also 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."
Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon, Central Visayas, Pangasinan, Zamboanga City, and Davao City shifted to GCQ on June 1, Monday.
Restaurants located in areas under modified GCQ (MGCQ) have already reopened their dine-in services at 50 percent capacity.
DINING IN: THE NEW NORMAL
Meanwhile, DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said in an interview with PTV4 that buffet and salad bars are still prohibited in GCQ areas, but samgyupsal restaurants may soon be allowed to open for dine-in customers.
However, there may be new rules for dining in.
She said, "Hindi puwede ang face-to-face sitting. There is no divider so magsa-samgyup sila in a table of four. Dalawa lang makaka-upo, diagonally seated."
Sec. Lopez also noted that restaurants should follow strict health protocol standards once they are allowed to welcome dine-in customers.
This includes social distancing by spacing tables 1.5 meters apart, installing barriers between customers, wearing face masks and other personal protective equipment, and disinfecting regularly.
Those who do not follow protocols will be closed.
President Rodrigo Duterte, however, holds the final decision on whether or not he will agree with the recommendations of IATF.
The IATF is set to present its recommendations on pandemic response to President Duterte this Monday, June 15, which is also the the last day of MGCQ.