Gov’t Backtracks: Bars to remain shut in general community quarantine

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Bars will remain closed in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ), Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said today, shortly after the Philippine government’s COVID-19 task force announced that these booze joints could reopen.

“I would like to clarify that we have not talked about bars [reopening]. The only thing we amended, and what is still being allowed [to operate] are dine-in establishments, which will now close at 9pm,” Lopez told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.

The secretary said bars are only allowed to open under the modified GCQ, the least strict of the country’s quarantine phases.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases, which oversees the country’s coronavirus response, said in a June 22 resolution that bars, restaurants, and cafés could allow a few customers to dine within their premises if they practice social distancing protocols.

However, Lopez said that the inclusion of bars “was an inadvertent mistake” and the establishment will be stricken off the list.

“It might have been a typo error… I read that too and I was surprised that [bars] were included… We are having it corrected as we speak,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lopez said that restaurants and cafés could now operate up to 9pm in GCQ and modified GCQ areas, three hours longer than what was first allowed by the government. Food establishments in GCQ areas are allowed to accommodate up to 30% of its usual number of customers while those in modified GCQ areas can accommodate up to half of their maximum number of clients.

All restaurants will be subjected to random inspections of the Department of Trade and Industry’s staff to determine if said businesses are implementing minimum health standards, such as wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.

President Rodrigo Duterte has imposed a lockdown on the country since mid-March, one of the longest in the world which has led countless local businesses to suffer, including bars.

Just last week, popular Quezon City bar Today X Future announced its permanent closure, hanging its hat after its nearly 12-year-run as an arts and wind-down sanctuary.

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