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Opening of cinemas deferred

PARANAQUE City Mayor and Metro Manila Council (MMC) Chairman Edwin Olivarez disclosed on Monday that the economic team of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has agreed to defer the opening of cinemas.

The economic team of IATF has allowed to defer the implementation regarding the opening of cinemas in the metropolis,” Olivarez said after discussing the issue with members of the IATF.

Olivarez said all the Metro Manila mayors were apprehensive with the recommendation on the opening of cinemas under GCQ because it did not go through “proper consultation.

He pointed out that local government units in Metro Manila were consulted by the IATF regarding other matters. However, the IATF failed to consult them on the issue of reopening cinemas.

Olivarez learned that Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro would have issued an executive order prohibiting the reopening of cinemas in the city if the IATF did not defer the implementation.

Aside from Teodoro, he said majority of the mayors agreed not to reopen cinemas citing the air-conditioning, theaters are enclosed and movies last more than 30 minutes.

These may be the reasons of another spike in COVID cases.

Besides this, coronavirus pandemic continues to rage not only in Metro Manila but also in several cities and provinces,” Olivarez pointed out as he emphasized that NCR is still under the GCQ status up to February 28.

Olivarez explained that the MMC supports the opening up of the economy but it “could not sacrifice” the health protocols.

The MMC chairman also said that aside from the reopening of cinemas, the MMC is also worried about the reopening of video and inter-active arcades.

He also thanked Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos for supporting the decision of Metro Manila mayors who fear another spike of COVID-19.

Abalos said he supports the reopening of the economy but that it should be done gradually.

Let’s see, let’s take it slow if there’s no spike in cases. What’s scary is if there will be a spike. It would be difficult to go back. The vaccine is almost here,” Abalos said

This as the reopening of cinemas in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) has been moved to March 1 to allow consultations with local officials, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this announcement after Metro Manila mayors expressed apprehension over the reopening of cinemas as it may lead to a spike in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

Roque said moving the reopening of cinemas to a later date is the result of talks with Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair Benhur Abalos, MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia, and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

Ngayon po, ang status nito, ang pagpapatupad po ng pagbubukas ng sinehan kung matutuloy po ay Marso 1. Kinakailangan po ipagpatuloy ang consultations at kinakailangan po bumuo ng guidelines ang mga lokal na pamahalaan bago po mabuksan ang mga sinehan,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

Roque also said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) respects the position of Metro Manila mayors.

Nirerespeto po ng IATF ang posisyon ng ating mga alkalde, lalong-lalo dito sa Metro Manila. Kaya nga po sa resolution, nakasaad po ‘yun, ito po ay magiging epektibo matapos po ang mga guidelines na i-issue ng mga lokal na pamahalaan lalo na pagdating sa seating capacity ng mga sinehan,” he said.

He said both the national and local governments agreed on the importance of slowly reopening the economy to recoup job losses due to the pandemic.

Nagkakaisa po kami na kinakailangan buksan unti-unti ang ekonomiya dahil mas marami na po ngayon nagugutom kesa dun sa mga nagkakasakit o namamatay dahil nga po sa COVID. Pero pinagkakaisahan din po ng IATF na hindi dapat paluwagin ang minimum health standards,” he said.

For her part, Dr. Minguita Padilla, Project Anti-body Rapid Test Kits (Project ARK) suggested putting up outdoor cinemas in parks, empty lots, and other open spaces to help the cinema industry without unduly putting people at risk of COVID-19 infection.

Kahit bawasan ang mga tao sa loob ng cinema, kasi kulob siya, kasi air-conditioned, maari pa rin ma-infect,” Padilla said.

The IATF-EID earlier allowed the reopening of cinemas and other business establishments in areas under GCQ starting Monday (Feb. 15) subject to guidelines from the Department of Health and local government units (LGUs).

IATF-EID resolutions are still subject to the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte. With Philippine News Agency