MANILA - A restaurant owners' group said it hopes that the COVID-19 alert level in Metro Manila will be lowered in the last three months of the year so that they can recoup their losses.
Resto PH, which has 250 restaurant owners as members nationwide, also said they prefer the current alert level, over the previous one.
"We like this alert system, it is more predictable for us. It is easier for us to work our business around this new alert level system. I see a lot more people going out and about,” said Eric Teng, Resto PH president.
Metro Manila businesses now have more than a week of experience under the new COVID alert level and granular lockdown system. This avoids placing entire cities under quarantine, limiting lockdowns to smaller areas inside villages or barangays.
Teng said he is also hopeful the COVID situation would improve enough for alert levels to go down in the fourth quarter, when many businesses are hoping to make up for some of their losses this year.
“The increasing vaccinated population for Metro Manila and the entire country, should allow us better or more relaxed alert levels in the coming weeks, and therefore will allow us more dine in capacity.”
He said that under the current Alert Level 4, restaurants are allowed to have dine-in customers at 10 percent capacity. Going to Alert Level 3 means they would be allowed 30 percent dine-in capacity.
“That is of course a three fold increase that we can now enjoy. That means we can now hire more people,” Teng said.
He added that not all the restaurants are able to operate under Alert Level 4, because they don’t have outdoor dining space, or catering to just 10 percent capacity is simply not feasible.
However, Teng also said he is encouraged by the increasing number of vaccinated customers that are becoming more comfortable dining out.
"I’d say more than half who go to restaurants are vaccinated.”
Many restaurant customers now bring their vaccination cards when they dine in, he said.
Teng could not say how many restaurants were forced to close because of the pandemic, but he said there was a surge in closures, particularly in school zones and business centers where foot traffic plunged due to lockdowns.
"We are hopeful that surge in closures will stop muna, for October to December, and hope many will be able to benefit for their patience and their resiliency.”
The country’s “vaccine czar” said last Sunday that up to 70 percent of Metro Manila’s adult population has been fully vaccinated, with 86 percent having taken at least one dose.
ABS-CBN News however has been tracking the number of vaccinations since March, and as of Sept. 27, only 20.5 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This means that the government has reached just one fourth of its target after almost 7 months.