DTI chief to recommend gradual reopening of dine-ins in restos

TRADE and Industry (DTI) Sec. Ramon Lopez on Friday told a virtual congressional hearing that he will recommend the gradual reopening of dine-in services in restaurants during the general community quarantine (GCQ).

During the House committee on trade and industry hearing via Zoom application, Lopez said their suggestion to gradually allow dine-in services “will make the re-opening earlier during GCQ instead of modified GCQ.”

“Since during GCQ, this particular service is not yet allowed, we are making a case na i-allow ito by presenting this and therefore all these are basically recommendations at this point. We hope to get the approval,” Lopez told the panel chaired by Valenzuela City Rep. Weslie Gatchalian.

DTI  Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said Lopez will recommend to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) the gradual return of restaurants to its dine-in services.

Last Thursday, President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte approved the recommendation of the IATF-EID to place the National Capital Region (NCR) under GCQ starting June 1.

But Castelo said only restaurants that can strictly follow health protocols will be allowed to activate its dine-in services.

“Secretary Lopez is recommending the gradual re-opening of stores during the general community quarantine [but] only those who can comply with the DTI-issued protocols can resume operations,” said Castelo.

“Those that are not ready may take their time and prepare so that we will all be sure that we can all be safe dining in inside their restaurants,” Castelo stressed, adding that salad bars, buffets and customer refill stations are not encouraged.

Under the DTI’s proposal, dine-in restaurants must ensure the availability of alcohol, floor mat with disinfectants at entrances, one meter apart distancing on all sides of tables and chairs, small trays should be used during payment to avoid contact, and floor markings to guide their customers in queuing.

The DTI said restaurants should have the mandatory use of thermal scanners to check the temperature of their customers.

The DTI also said that the staff of restaurants should always wear face masks, hair caps, gloves, face shields, and closed shoes.

However, Castelo said it is the IATF-EID that will decide whether or not to allow the DTI’s recommendation.

“All operations are subject to post-audit from DoLE (Department of Labor and Employment), DTI, DoT (Department of Tourism), and the local government unit health officers or other deputized organizations,” Castelo explained.

Should the DTI’s request is granted, Castelo said the department will strictly monitor and enforce the health protocols and recommend the closure of restaurants that do not follow the rules and regulations.

“We can do random inspections, as we normally do and we will recommend the closure of business establishments that do not comply with health protocols imposed by the government,” said Castelo.