Happy Hour no more as Cebu City prohibits alcoholic drinks in public places

Published February 2, 2021, 3:21 PM

by Calvin Cordova 

CEBU CITY—To discourage people from gathering in public places, bars, restaurants and other food establishments in the city will no longer be allowed to serve alcoholic drinks.

Mayor Edgardo Labella (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

City Mayor Edgardo Labella on Tuesday issued an Executive Order (EO) prohibiting the serving of alcoholic drinks in commercial establishments.
The EO will take effect Wednesday, Feb. 3.
Selling of alcoholic drinks will still be allowed but the public was advised not to consume the beverages in public places.
Although serving of alcoholic drinks is allowed in areas under the modified general community quarantine, Labella said the city has pushed for the prohibition to help arrest the increasing number coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city.
Prior to the issuance of the EO, restaurants were allowed to serve a maximum of three bottles of alcoholic beverages to each customer.
However, this leniency has been abused by establishments that resulted to the rampant gathering of people, the mayor said.
“These establishments, they just monitor if there are police around and if there is none, they allow their customers to consume more. I am very sad to issue this (EO) because the business community would want to continue serving alcoholic drinks, but I realized this has contributed to the spike (of COVID-19 cases),” Labella said
The police have been regularly inspecting food establishments to ensure the compliance of health protocols.
From January 16-31, the police apprehended close to 2,000 persons for violating health protocols. Among those apprehended were 12 doctors who were caught drinking in a bar during curfew hours.  
Labella warned that erring establishments will face closure.
“We will not hesitate to close business establishments if only to ensure compliance. We have the authority to revoke business permits. The police, through the City Attorney’s Office, can also file charges,” said Labella.
Cases that may be filed against violators may include violation of Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code, which penalizes disobedience of lawful orders.
The mayor has also instructed Councilor Raymond Garcia to craft an ordinance that will slap stiffer penalties against violators.
“The EO has limitations. The problem with our local government code, the penalty of imprisonment should not be more than one year and the fine should not be more than P5,000. That’s why we have to come up with an ordinance with stiffer penalties,” the mayor said.
The mayor reiterated his appeal to the public to strictly follow health protocols due to the increasing COVID-19 cases.
As of February 1, the city has 1,504 active cases.
“God forbid, it will be very difficult for us if we go back to ECQ (enhanced community quarantine. Be a hero to our fellow beings, loved ones, families and neighbors,” said Labella.