Gyms, spas, tourism still allowed within 'NCR Plus' bubble: officials

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2021 03:09 PM | Updated as of Mar 22 2021 03:37 PM

Gyms, spas, tourism still allowed within 'NCR Plus' bubble: officials 1
Members of the Philippine National Police check motorists coming from Muntinlupa City heading to Cavite on March 22, 2021, the start of the implemented GCQ with additional restrictions in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

 MANILA — Gyms and spas can operate while tourism is allowed within Metro Manila and its 4 surrounding provinces, which the government collectively calls NCR Plus and where tighter COVID-19 rules are in place to battle a surge in infections, officials said on Monday.

Fitness centers and gyms are allowed to operate at 75-percent capacity in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, "subject [to] safety protocols and minimum public health standards," said Palace spokesman Harry Roque. 

"Pero ang mga ito po'y nakadepende rin sa inyong lokal na pamahalaan kung sila'y naglalabas ng ordinansa na nagsususpinde nito," he said in a press briefing.

(But this depends on your local governments, if they issue an ordinance suspending these.)

Personal care services, including spas, can operate at 50-percent capacity, said Roque. 

Tourism is allowed within the NCR Plus, for example going to Tagaytay from Metro Manila, said Philippine National Police officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield.

"Meron namang mga guidelines na inilabas ang ating Department of Tourism regarding doon sa mga bata at matatanda kung kasama sila, pati na rin sa reservation, and iyong mga protocol nung hotel na accredited na pupuntahan," Eleazar said in the same briefing.

(Our Department of Tourism issued guidelines regarding children and senior citizens if they will join, as well as on the reservation process, and the protocols in the accredited hotel where they will stay.)

"Ang hindi lang pupuwede is for example lalabas ka ng bubble natin… Kung ikaw ay nasa from Manila, pupunta ka sa Boracay, iyon ang magiging problema natin," he added. 

(What is not allowed is if for example you will go outside the bubble. If you are in Manila and will go to Boracay, that's where we'll have a problem.) 

Video courtesy of PTV

Restrictions in the NCR bubble include night curfews and the prohibition of mass gatherings, Roque earlier said. 

"This is not hard lockdown," he said in a virtual briefing on Sunday. "But we have additional restrictions."

Gatherings will be allowed for weddings, baptisms, and funeral services, but limited to a maximum of 10 people.

Travel will remain unimpeded within the bubble area but only individuals 18-65 years old are essentially allowed outdoors.

Travel to and from the bubble area is limited to health and emergency frontline services personnel, government officials and government frontline personnel, persons traveling for medical and humanitarian reasons, and those going to the airport to travel abroad.

Restaurants will remain open but only for delivery, take-out, and outdoor dining services.

The Philippines recorded 7,757 additional COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the second-highest single-day increase in the Southeast Asian nation and marking the third straight day confirmed new cases topped 7,000.

Total recorded cases in the Philippines had risen to 663,794 while confirmed deaths had reached 12,968, among the highest in Asia.

The health department urged the public to ensure adherence to minimum public health standards, which includes the wearing of masks even at home when not alone. 

— With a report from Reuters