Metro Manila mayors vote to close gyms, spas, internet cafes: Palace

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS CBN News

Posted at Mar 23 2021 01:01 PM

Metro Manila mayors vote to close gyms, spas, internet cafes: Palace 1
A man walks past a fitness center in Barangay South Triangle in Quezon City on March 16, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The 17 mayors of Metro Manila have agreed to temporarily close gyms, spas and internet cafes to curb a spike in COVID-19 infections, Malacañang said on Tuesday. 

Palace spokesman Harry Roque said on Monday these establishments can continue to operate at a limited capacity during the 2-week tightening of restrictions in the capital region and 4 surrounding provinces, if local officials agree. 

However, mayors of Metro Manila have voted to shut down gyms, spas and internet cafes for 2 weeks, Roque said in a press briefing. 

Monday marked the start of tighter restrictions in Metro Manila, an urban sprawl of 16 cities that is home to at least 13 million people, and the adjacent provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal.

Only essential travel to and from the capital region and the 4 provinces, which government calls "NCR Plus" bubble area, will be allowed.

Restrictions in the NCR bubble also include night curfews and the prohibition of mass gatherings. 

The Philippines on Monday reported a record daily rise of 8,019 COVID-19 infections, as authorities implemented tighter curbs in the congested capital region and hospital capacity neared critical levels in some areas.

In a bulletin, the health department said total confirmed cases had reached 671,792, while deaths increased 4 four to 12,972. It was the third time the Philippines has posted a fresh high in daily cases in the past 4 days. 

The new wave of cases in the Philippines, which has the second highest number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Southeast Asia, is also threatening hopes of a strong economic rebound after a record contraction last year and the loss of millions of jobs.

The Philippines, which launched its vaccination drive later than neighbors at the start of this month, has received delivery of 1.125 million donated doses of the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines.

The government plans to inoculate 70 million adults this year as it seeks to achieve herd immunity.

— With a report from Reuters