More businesses allowed to reopen in GenSan

Published June 5, 2021, 2:05 PM

by Philippine News Agency

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (PNA) – The city government has allowed more businesses to reopen as it noted improvements in its response and health capacity amid the continuing surge of locally transmitted COVID-19 cases.

Mayor Ronnel Rivera here said Saturday they have lifted the restriction on dine-in services of restaurants, fast food outlets, eateries, and other food establishments but still on limited capacity as the city remains under General Community Quarantine (GCQ).

He said food establishments are now allowed to accept dine-in customers at 30 percent capacity for enclosed spaces and 50 percent in alfresco or open spaces.

The General Santos mayor said the decision was made by the City Inter-Agency Task Force (CIATF) for the Management of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases in a meeting Friday.

“We assessed our situation with the prevailing GCQ measures and looked into the requests from the affected sectors,” he said in a radio interview.

The city government restricted the operations of food establishments, limiting them to pick-up and delivery services when it placed the city under GCQ last May 25 through Executive Order No. 25.

It temporarily closed down shopping malls and other service-related businesses, among them bicycle shops, barber shops, and beauty salons, but eventually allowed these establishments to reopen early this week.

Last Friday, the national IATF for Emerging Infectious Diseases approved the city government’s request to place the city under GCQ from June 5 to June 30.

The General Santos mayor said the other prevailing restrictions will continue such as the strict border control, “no movement Sunday,” curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., total liquor ban, barangay clustering to prevent non-essential travel, and the market schedule.

He said they are still discussing whether to allow the resumption of church services and other religious activities, currently on virtual mode.

Rivera acknowledged that “(religious) worship and prayer” are essential for the people in the wake of the continuing pandemic but said the city government has to temporarily put them on hold as it continues to address the rising infections, which already affected the area’s health system.

But he assured that the CIATF will continue to assess the city’s COVID-19 situation every week and make proper adjustments if necessary.

“For the past two weeks we’ve seen that there were improvements with our response and efforts to mitigate the local transmission, and hopefully this will continue in the coming days,” he said.

As of 6 p.m. Friday, active COVID-19 cases in this city dropped to 658 from 674 Thursday after the City Health Office (CHO) recorded 90 recoveries despite the addition of 74 new infections.

The confirmed cases in the area since last year already reached a total of 4,032, with 129 related deaths and 3,245 recoveries.

CHO said the occupancy rate in the seven COVID-19 referral hospitals here remained high at 96.5 percent while the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) facilities are at full capacity and 60 percent of the mechanical ventilators are in use.

As of June 3, the Department of Health said the city has 287 allotted hospital beds for COVID-19 patients, with 193 in isolation, 69 staying in wards, and 25 in ICU. It has 16 mechanical ventilators.