Metro Manila mayors wary of reopening cinemas

By CNN Philippines Staff

Some Metro Manila mayors have reservations about the national government’s decision to allow the reopening of cinemas and other businesses in areas under general community quarantine, such as the capital region.

“At the moment there’s still some discussion among the mayors of the Metro Manila Council pertaining to some of these establishments specifically movie theaters and cinemas,” Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte told CNN Philippines on Saturday. “There are reservations about the safety of opening these up at this time.”

Quezon City is the biggest city in the National Capital Region and is home to several shopping malls.

San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora said he prefers to keep movie theaters closed to prevent further transmission of COVID-19.

“You are going to allow people to be confined in an air-conditioned facility for almost two hours and I believe that this poses high risk in terms of infection,” Zamora said.

Belmonte and Zamora said the Metro Manila Council, composed of 17 local chief executives, is likely to convene on Sunday to arrive at a consensus. The council usually makes recommendations to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the policy-making body in government’s pandemic response, but the national government still has the final say.

On Friday, the IATF announced that the following businesses and industries can resume operations:

1. Driving schools

2. Traditional cinemas, and video- and interactive- game arcades

3. Libraries, archives, museums, and cultural centers

4. Meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions, and limited social events at accredited establishments of the department of tourism

5. Limited tourist attractions (e.g. parks, theme parks, natural sites, and historical landmarks)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who also speaks for the IATF, said the new rules could take effect on Monday, February 15, once the implementing guidelines on operating capacity and regulation are released. Starting Monday, churches are also allowed to accommodate more attendees – up to 50% of the venue capacity, compared to the current 30%.

The country has recorded over 547,000 cases of the coronavirus disease wherein 11,507 died while more than 500,000 have recovered. It is also facing the threat of a more transmissible variant first discovered in the United Kingdom which has been detected in at least 44 patients.

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