Most business establishments located in areas under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) are allowed to operate up to 100 percent of capacity starting today, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.
DTI Memorandum Circular No. 20-52 signed by Secretary Ramon M. Lopez provided for the increase in the allowable operational capacity of certain business establishments under Categories 2 and 3 of the GCQ areas subject to minimum public health and safety standards and protocols.
Business establishments or activities in Section 1 in areas under GCQ shall be allowed at 100 percent capacity while still allowing workfrom-home arrangements, except for barbershops and salons which shall be allowed at a maximum of 75 percent operational capacity.
Operational capacity for dine-in services of restaurants and fastfood establishments shall be allowed at more than 50 percent operational capacity provided that physical distancing is strictly observed.
Notably, the DTI MC left it to the mayors to decide as to the extent of easing the capacity restrictions of businesses.
The MC said that the increase in operating capacity, menu offering, and maximum servings of alcoholic beverages shall be subject to the corresponding local government guidelines.
In addition, the MC said that restaurants and fast food establishments dine-in, take-out, and delivery services shall be allowed to operate up to 24 hours a day, as far as practicable, to augment the additional operational requirement and serve the needs of the public, while enhancing income opportunities for workers.
The DTI, through the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau and its regional or provincial offices, shall continue its strict compliance monitoring through its post audit-mechanism.
Inspection by the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Health and the local government units’ health office may also be conducted at any time.
Lopez has been calling for higher operating capacity of establishments that have been allowed under the GCQ status and have opened up to 50 percent operating capacity already.
The higher operating capacity of establishments was also encouraged by the improving statistics of the country.
“We can say, it is already safe and it’s about time,” he said while at the same time noting that surveys also showed increased in hunger in the country and low business confidence.
If businesses remained closed or their operating capacities limited, he said, there would be more economic losses but which can only be addressed by further reopening to resuscitate business, stimulate the economy and people can return back to work and earn.
Lopez also said that based on their latest survey 6 percent or 90,000 of 1.5 million registered MSMEs are still closed although this is already an improvement from a high of 38 percent temporary closures during the height of the lockdown.
Overall unemployment rate has also been brought down from over 17.7 percent at the height of the lockdown to 10 percent rate at present or 4.4 million estimated total Filipinos unemployed. Of this number, 2.2 million Filipinos lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
“So, it is important to continue gradually reopen but this does not mean we have to relax our health protocols, in fact it is more stringent now from face masks we also have to wear face shields,” he said.
Lopez stressed the need for people to go back to work and earn and be able to enjoy the Christmas season.
“It’s been 6 months and I believe the virus will not go away. The real solution is to reopen more, allow more workers to come in so that we can bring back jobs and the income that will keep consumer confidence,” he said citing that investor confidence has gone down to 12 percent from 20 percent.
Under the GCQ level, establishment under Category 3 are only allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity, but Lopez has pressed for 100 percent capacity.
These businesses include services firms like legal, accounting, wholesale and retail trade, travel agencies, administrative services, financial services, management consultancy, architecture and engineering, science and research and development, advertising and market research, computer programming, publishing and printing, film music TV production, recruitment and placement agencies for overseas employment, photography services, repair of motor vehicles motorcycles and bicycles, malls commercial centers, hardware, clothing and accessories, bookstores, infant care supplies, pet care supplies, IT communications and electronic equipment, flower jewelry stores, music and toy stores, art galleries, firearms and ammunition trading, subject to PNP regulation, and public private construction projects.
But those that just reopened like the review and testing centers, drive in cinemas and pet grooming, medical aesthetics other personal care services should remain on their current status quo.
Other business categories like those in entertainment, museum, tourism cultural centers can follow under MGCQ.
“We don’t adjust mass assemblies, gatherings, etc., because they are changed only under MGCQ,” he said.