Bawal magkatabi: No seatmates allowed when cinemas reopen, says DILG

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 14 2021 10:41 AM

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MANILA – There will be seats in between moviegoers when cinemas are allowed to reopen once Metro Manila shifts to a looser quarantine level starting this weekend, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said.

The inter-agency task force on COVID-19 on Wednesday approved the recommendation to place the capital region under Alert Level 3 from Oct. 16 to 31, down from Alert Level 4 first imposed on Sept. 16.

Under this alert level, cinemas are allowed to open at 30 percent capacity for fully-vaccinated individuals.

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“A lot of people are so happy with this, even the cinema operators association,” Malaya said. “

"They’re happy because under the old guidelines, they would still continue to be prohibited under Alert Level 3, but they really appealed and requested that they be allowed to open.”

“So yes, 30 percent indoor capacity for cinemas under Alert Level 3, and, since it’s only 30 percent, there will be seats in between moviegoers that will be left vacant,” he said in an interview on ANC’s “Rundown.”

The Cinema Exhibitor Association of the Philippines (CEAP) had earlier said they have drawn up a set of protocols to ensure the safe reopening of cinemas amid the ongoing pandemic.

“Kapag nagbukas po tayo dapat one seat apart muna, tapos the whole time na nanunood ng sine naka-mask ‘yung mga nanunood. Tapos wala munang kakain," CEAP President Charmaine Bauzon said. 

(When we reopen, patrons should be one seat apart, and they should be wearing masks the while time that they are watching movies. Eating inside the cinema will also not be allowed in the meantime.)

Cinema staff will also observe minimum health protocols like washing of hands when theaters are allowed to reopen, Bauzon said.

Cinemas have been closed in the Philippines since the pandemic began in March 2020, and since then the industry has lost a total P21 billion in revenues, the group said.

Malaya stressed, however, that a number of businesses are still not allowed to open under Alert Level 3.

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Malaya said quarantine restrictions were eased in Metro Manila because of improving COVID-19 case numbers.

“The data from both the Department of Health and the OCTA Research group and the independent groups have shown a 32 to 35 percent decrease in the seven-day daily average of COVID cases in the National Capital Region,” he said.

“And this is also supported by data from the healthcare utilization of the different hospitals in Metro Manila where ICU beds are at 69 [percent], isolation at 44 [percent], ward beds at 50 [percent], so the situation has definitely improved which prompted the decrease in the alert level system.”

He appealed to the public, however, not to let their guards down.

“There are still some places in the country that are still under high risk, but the rest are now in moderate risk,” he said.

“So really the situation is not yet over, things are improving, I think we can look forward to a better Christmas, but we cannot put our [guards] down so please, minimum public health standards at all times.”

--ANC, 14 October 2021