More than losses, resto group worried about public's perception on dining with current restrictions

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 26) — A restaurant group is expressing worry over the impact of current quarantine rules on indoor dining on how the public perceives it.

"Definitely, short-term losses [are] of course guaranteed almost. But I'm more worried of the long-term stigma of what the public would feel or think about indoor dining," Restaurant Owners of the Philippines (RestoPH) president Eric Teng told CNN Philippines' The Exchange with Rico Hizon.

Dine-ins are prohibited under the NCR Plus bubble, which covers main economic hub Metro Manila and adjacent provinces Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal. Restaurants and food establishments are only allowed to accommodate take-outs, deliveries, and maximum 50% capacity outdoor or al fresco dining.

Teng emphasized that the dine-in industry is generally safe especially inside malls, given how there are plenty of safety checks around from the mall entrance to the entrance of each restaurant.

"Restaurants, I can consider as safe zones. But of course the public may have a different perception after all this gets normalized," Teng said.

He also sounded the alarm on how banning dine-ins only shifted the demand to other venues like home parties, which are considered super-spreader events.

Still, Teng said restaurants have been employing creative means to adapt to the current restrictions, with some utilizing parking spaces or opening up roof decks to accommodate diners to ensure public safety.

"Give me any open space...roof deck, balcony, fire escapes. If we can put a table there, we can put candles and glassware, it's a table, it's a restaurant, it's al fresco," he added.