Suffice it to say that Dr. Tony Leachon’s warnings against the reopening of cinemas mean nothing to Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) Spokesperson Harry Roque.
“Hindi po kami matatakot sa kahit anong rekomendasyon ni Dr. Leachon (We aren’t afraid of any recommendation coming from Dr. Leachon),” Roque, also the presidential spokesperson, said in a virtual press conference Thursday, Oct. 14.
Roque was referring to Dr. Leachon’s thumbing down of the national government’s move of allowing cinemas and movie houses to operate in the National Capital Region (NCR) beginning Oct. 16.
This coincides with the lowering of the alert level in NCR from alert level 4 to alert level 3 under the relatively new Alert Level System (ALS).
Leachon, a former special adviser of the IATF, reportedly said patrons would be put at high risk of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) inside cinemas, citing the possibility of a huge crowd and poor ventilation at the venue.
“Unang-una, ito po ay para sa mga bakunado lamang (First of all, this is for vaccinated people only),” Roque said in response to the doctors’ warning.
“Pangalawa po, 30 percent seating capacity, wala po iyang magkakatabi. Tapos number three, mayroon pang guidelines na inisyu po ng ating DOH (Department of Health) na kinakailangan may ventilation, may use of air purifier system (Second, the seating capacity will only be 30 percent, so nobody will be sitting beside each other. And then number three, the DOH has issued guidelines that they should be ventilation and use of an air purifier system),” he said.
Before the announcement to lower the NCR alert level, Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion attested to the safety of cinemas as a venue for holding a certain number of people.
“Isipin din po natin iyong mga naghahanapbuhay na related sa mga sinehan. Hindi lang po iyan iyong mga sinehan mismo, kung hindi iyong mga artista, mga cameramen, mga extras, lahat po sila nakasalalay diyan sa hanapbuhay (Let also think of the people who rely on the cinemas for their livelihood. It’s not just those employed by the cinema itself, but the artists, the cameramen, the extras, all of livelihoods depend on the cinemas),” Roque said.
Despite this, the IATF mouthpiece clarified that Filipinos’ health isn’t being sacrificed, since the cinemas will only be reopened in light of NCR’s 80 percent vaccination rate as far as its eligible population is concerned.