What to expect if Philippine cinemas reopen as planned in March
Workers disinfect the seats of a cinema as they prepare to welcome movie-lovers at a mall in Taytay, Rizal on Oct. 14, 2020.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

What to expect if Philippine cinemas reopen as planned in March

Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - February 18, 2021 - 5:09pm

MANILA, Philippines — The controversial reopening of movie theaters and other entertainment establishments — set for March 1 at the earliest and subject to the guidelines of local governments — has clear risks, according to critics of the move.

Related: COVID-19 risks raised anew amid debated plan to reopen cinemas in GCQ areas

This is why Metro Manila mayors opposed the decision, followed by the eventual postponement of the policy from mid-February to March.

“So, ngayon po ang status nito, ang pagpapatupad po ng pagbubukas ng sinehan, kung matutuloy po ay Marso a-uno. Kinakailangan po ipagpatuloy ang consultations at kinakailangan po bumuo ng guidelines ang mga lokal na pamahalaan bago po mabuksan ang mga sinehan,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Monday.

The following day, Roque said that the Health Department is coming up with protocols on the reopening of cinemas if it pushes through and that local government units are in the process of issuing guidelines should they wish to allow this.

Department of Health Director Eric Tayag in the Thursday Laging Handa public briefing gave advice on how cinema operators can mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spread, namely:

  • Reducing the number of screenings to allot time for disinfection in between screenings
  • Reducing the occupancy of each movie theater
  • Provision of health declaration forms
  • Pausing in the middle of screening to break up two hours of continuous exposure in an area that isn't well-ventilated
  • Intervals of at least two chairs between moviegoers
  • Prohibiting eating
  • Prohibiting phone calls
  • Turning off cellphones
  • Limiting restroom use at the movie theater as much as possible
  • Wearing of masks

The health official said that those who fear the risks of reopening cinemas can always choose not to go.

“Kaya kahit po nilabas 'yan ng IATF, kung inaakala niyo pong hindi matatanggap 'yung risk na 'yun... ay 'wag po kayong manood kasi may iba namang paraan para tayo po ay ma-entertain,” Tayag said.

“Kaya kung inaakala niyo po ay malalagay kayo sa panganib, 'wag po kayong manood.”

He also said that a person also has an individual responsibility to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“Kaya nga lang po sa mga manonood po, kung may sakit po kayo at kayo'y dapat naka-quarantine ay wala kayong dahilan para manood po kayo sapagkat bawal. Kaya 'yung dapat manood diyan ay 'yung walang sakit at hindi naman naka-quarantine so 'yan po ay responsibilidad ng bawat isa.”

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