Government hikes capacity for gyms, internet shops

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
Government hikes capacity for gyms, internet shops
An employee works out in a private company gym in Manila.
Joey Mendoza, file

MANILA, Philippines — Review centers, gyms, internet cafes and dermatological clinics were allowed to operate at higher capacity starting yesterday in line with the government’s thrust to further reopen the economy to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

Under Memorandum Circular 20-57, testing, tutorial and review centers; gyms, fitness centers, and sports facilities limited to individual workouts and non-contact sports activities; internet cafes; dermatological clinics offering aesthetic procedures as well as other personal care services, including body massage; pet grooming services; drive-in cinemas; and travel agencies, tour operators, reservation service and related activities can now operate at 75 percent capacity in general community quarantine areas, and up to 100 percent in areas under modified GCQ.

Aside from the minimum public health and safety standards and protocols set by the government, these establishments should strictly implement the “seven commandments” against the coronavirus disease 2019.

The seven commandments are wearing proper face masks; wearing face shields; no talking and no eating in confined areas and crowded places; adequate ventilation; frequent and proper disinfection; isolation of symptomatic or COVID-19 positives, and appropriate physical distancing.

To prevent further transmission of COVID-19, the DTI is encouraging these establishments to implement additional control measures which include providing foot baths or foot mats with disinfectant at the entrance; allowing scheduling of appointments through phone calls, emails or online; providing sterilizers for personal effects; covering furniture made of porous material with plastic for easy sanitation; no physical contact policy during payment, and designation of manager on duty to oversee implementation of government protocols.

The DTI will continue to monitor their compliance to health protocols through its post-audit mechanism. Other agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment and Department of Health, as well as the local government unit’s health office may also conduct inspections of establishments at any time.

For feedback and complaints, individuals may contact DTI Consumer Care Hotline 1-384.

To bring back jobs and push for economic recovery, the government has been allowing more business establishments to increase operational capacity.

In a related development, the business group Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) said yesterday that it welcomes the DTI’s recent move to ease control measures in malls and expand the group of individuals allowed to step out of their homes to help stimulate the economy.

MAP president Francis Lim said the move is a concrete response to the clamor of 39 percent of the people that the government should balance the needs of COVID-19 with the economy, particularly in Metro Manila.

“It is a bold step intended to lessen the impact of COVID-19 on our economy, which is estimated to lose P6 billion daily even with the easing of community quarantine for most parts of the country,” he said.

The group, he added, is also urging the strict observance of the “seven commandments.”

“These are essential in regaining public confidence in our ability to contain COVID-19 while opening up our economy, and thereby minimize the suffering of our people from the pandemic,” Lim pointed out.

Metro Manila, the provinces of Batangas and Lanao del Sur and the cities of Iloilo, Bacolod, Tacloban and Iligan are under GCQ for the entire month of November. All other areas are under modified GCQ status.

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