IATF gives go signal to group practices in NCR Plus

Published June 11, 2021, 2:55 PM

by Jonas Terrado

The TNT Tropang Giga during their team practice in Laoag (PBA Images)

Professional teams can now resume practices inside the so-called NCR Plus bubble after the Inter-Agency Task Force allowed the re-opening of indoor non-contact sports venues.

In its latest resolution released Friday, June 11, the IATF said fitness studios, gyms, skating rinks and racket sports courts inside Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan can operate again at 30 percent capacity.

The IATF also said that these venues should have safety seal certifications before it can start their operations.

Games and Amusements Board chairman Baham Mitra confirmed in the government body for professional sports’ monthly press briefing that pro teams can practice by groups based on the Joint Administrative Order.

Baham explained that the guidelines of the JAO, composed of GAB, Philippine Sports Commission and the Department of Health, will limit the activity of the pro clubs to five people per group to assure that health and safety protocols are observed.

The decision is a welcome development for pro leagues led by the PBA, which has been forced to have its teams train in areas under the normal General Community Quarantine.

Indoor training is prohibited in NCR Plus prior to the new IATF ruling due to the “heightened restrictions” category of GCQ.

Barangay Ginebra, San Miguel Beer, Magnolia, Phoenix, Rain or Shine, Alaska, NorthPort, Blackwater and Terrafirma have spent the past weeks training in different cities and municipalities in Batangas.

NLEX has held a mixture of practices in Pampanga and individual outdoor training in University of the Philippines Diliman while TNT and Meralco are back in Laoag, Ilocos Norte for the second phase of their training bubble.

Premier Volleyball League teams, namely Cignal, PLDT, F2 Logistics, Perlas Spikers and BaliPure, have either started or slated to hold their own training bubbles in Batangas, Pampanga or Baguio.

Ongoing training sessions in the said areas that are either under the normal GCQ or Modified General Community Quarantine allow for full practices and scrimmages.

The IATF ruling comes as Malacanang has hinted that Metro Manila and the provinces under NCR Plus may be reverted back to normal GCQ after June 15 due to a downward trend in COVID-19 cases.

For the PBA, it could open the door for the start of the 46th season under a closed-circuit concept later this month or in early-July inside NCR Plus.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial had earlier said that he plans to seek the permission of the IATF once new community quarantine guidelines are announced, given the success of the ongoing practices.