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Reopening of cinemas pushed back to March, subject to LGU rules

(Philstar.com) - February 15, 2021 - 2:50pm

MANILA, Philippines — The reopening of movie theaters and other entertainment establishments has been moved to March 1 at the earliest and will be subject to the guidelines of local governments, Malacañang said Monday. 

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement after mayors of Metro Manila, which is under general community quarantine this February, opposed the pandemic task force’s decision to allow the reopening of cinemas and other select establishments GCQ areas.

“The opening of cinemas, if it will push through, will be on March 1. We need to continue the consultations and local officials need to come up with guidelines before it can reopen,” Roque, who is also the IATF spokesperson, said in Filipino in a briefing.

In an interview on CNN Philippines on Monday, Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez, who chairs the Metro Manila Council, said the reopening of cinemas in the capital region would be deferred since this may lead to spike in COVID-19 cases. He cited the risk of the virus spreading in airconditioned and enclosed spaces.

Roque said the IATF—the policy-making body on measures to address the health crisis—and local chief executives are "not fighting" over the decision. Although the IATF makes policies, President Rodrigo Duterte has also reversed its decisions in the past.

He thumbed down a supposed policy to allow more minors out in areas under the more lenient Modified General Community Quarantine days after the IATF announced it.

Ventilation requirements

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said guidelines on ventilation requirements for enclosed spaces such as cinemas will be issued by the Department of Labor and Employment.

“They consulted with an epidemiologist so they can provide requirements for ventilation, especially for enclosed spaces, to prevent the spread of infection,” Vergeire said.

Aside from movie theaters, the IATF also allowed driving schools, video and interactive game arcades, libraries, archives, museums, cultural centers, meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions and limited social events of establishments accredited by the Department of Tourism to operate in areas under GCQ.

The Philippines has the second-worst coronavirus outbreak in Southeast Asia following Indonesia, with nearly 550,000 cases and over 11,000 deaths. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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