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MMDA: Mayors await government decision on cinema reopening

Ghio Ong, Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
MMDA: Mayors await government decision on cinema reopening
“Our Metro Manila mayors are ready to follow and of course, we will be waiting and depending on the implementing rules and regulations that would be set forth by the Inter-Agency Task Force” for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, MMDA public services head Michael Salalima said in Filipino during a radio interview.
Miguel De Guzman, file

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila mayors are ready to follow the national government’s decision on the reopening of cinemas, which was deferred to next month after mayors voiced their opposition, a Metropolitan Manila Development Official said yesterday.

“Our Metro Manila mayors are ready to follow and of course, we will be waiting and depending on the implementing rules and regulations that would be set forth by the Inter-Agency Task Force” for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), MMDA public services head Michael Salalima said in Filipino during a radio interview.

He added that he believes the rules are already being crafted.

Decision-makers are already mulling guidelines that would only allow a certain capacity inside cinema houses, barring food inside the cinemas and implementing social distancing, Salalima said.

Also yesterday, MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos maintained that the Metro Manila Council, composed of the metropolis’ 17 mayors, “strongly opposes” the reopening of cinemas, saying that local chief executives are “united that now is not the right time to reopen the cinemas.”

He underscored that the mayors even filed a motion for reconsideration regarding the matter.

Despite this, Abalos said the mayors would “support and respect the final decision of President Duterte on the matter.”

Pasig movie theaters remain closed

Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto, however, said movie theaters in the city will remain closed even if the metropolis shifts to the most relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) next month.

“Whether you call it GCQ or MGCQ, for now we will have cinemas remain closed,” he said in an interview over CNN Philippines on Friday night.

Sotto admitted there is a need to further open up the economy after almost a year of strict quarantine protocols. He said Pasig was not spared as about five percent of businesses in the city shut down operations during the pandemic.

However, he stressed that moves to spur economic growth should be done gradually.

Why not open schools?

Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco on Friday questioned why the national government would open gaming arcades and movie theaters first instead of schools.

“Why open arcades when face-to-face classes in schools will not resume? Schools should be reopened first if the outdoors are truly safe for children,” he told “The Chiefs” on One News/TV5.

Tiangco said he could not reconcile the IATF’s rule on barring children from leaving their houses with the same council’s announcement to allow businesses that attract children – like arcades – to reopen.

He also questioned the proposal of the IATF’s economic team to lower the age limit of children allowed outdoors.

“They say lowering the age limit can revive the economy. I ask, why are children suddenly responsible for economic recovery?” Tiangco said.

He proposed that the government should wait for the COVID-19 vaccines before relaxing quarantine restrictions.

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