COVID-19 task force OKs reopening of gyms, skating rinks, museums in NCR Plus

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 11 2021 10:12 AM | Updated as of Jun 11 2021 03:30 PM

A man walks past a fitness center in Barangay South Triangle in Quezon City on March 16, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The inter-agency task force leading the country’s COVID-19 response said on Friday it has allowed the reopening of gyms, skating rinks, museums, and other establishments in Metro Manila and surrounding Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal provinces. 

The IATF, in its meeting on Thursday, gave green light to the indoor non-contact sports venues in the NCR Plus area at 30 percent of their capacity, said Malacañang ang task force spokesman Harry Roque.

These establishments—including gyms, fitness studios, skating rinks, and racket sports courts—must have Safety Seal Certifications, he said in a statement. 

The coronavirus task force also allowed the reopening of historical sites and museums in NCR Plus at 20 percent venue capacity, Roque said. 

They must follow health and safety protocols and have the approval of their respective local government units, he said. 

"Guided tours in these historical sites and museums, however, remain prohibited," added the Palace official. 

Video courtesy of PTV

Requirements for the Safety Seal include good ventilation in a venue, said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez. 

He said his agency has so far disapproved the seal application of 105 retail, hardware, service establishments. The trade department approved some 115, while about 600 others are pending inspection. 

Gyms alone have 22,000 workers who could return to their livelihood, Lopez noted in a televised public briefing. 

Indoor group classes at studios are "discouraged for now," said the trade chief. 

"Ang importante po talaga dito, ‘yong mga individual exercises," he said 

(What's really important here are the individual exercises.)

Home to some 24 million people, the NCR Plus area is under general community quarantine "with restrictions" until June 15. 

Mayors in Metro Manila, which accounts for about two-thirds of the country's gross domestic product, voted to close gyms in late March when NCR Plus tightened restrictions to curb a surge in coronavirus infections.

The capital region's utilization of intensive care units has gone down to about 53 percent. This is among the considerations for an area's quarantine level, Roque said on Thursday. 

"The numbers are looking good," he said in a press briefing. 

"Based on the figures Metro Manila Plus might be looking at a de-escalation. It may not be to MGCQ, but it could be to ordinary GCQ," added the official. 

The Philippines is battling one of Asia's longest running COVID-19 outbreaks. It has tallied about 1.293 million coronavirus infections and about 22,000 deaths. 

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