DTI mulls allowing limited dine-ins in restaurants amid pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 21) - Eating inside restaurants and other establishments may be allowed again, a Cabinet official said on Thursday.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said he may propose to allow restaurants to hold dine-in services for a few customers amid COVID-19 quarantine restrictions if health measures are followed.

Lopez said he will visit some fast-food establishments on Saturday to check on their safety protocols and this will determine if his department will suggest a reopening.

"'Pag tayo ay nakumbinsi na safe po na kumain at iimplement 'yung minimum health protocol, we will propose the opening of dine-in," he told the Senate in a hearing held online.

[Translation: If we are convinced that it is safe to eat (in restaurants) and minimum health protocol will be implemented, we will propose the opening of dine-in.]

However, Lopez suggested that only 50 percent of capacity should be used, depending on how big the establishment is, to maintain social distancing.

The secretary was responding to Senator Cynthia Villar, who said she spoke to some restaurant businesses that may be forced to lay off their employees or declare bankruptcy due to losses.

Lopez agreed it was important to bring back dine-ins, noting that 70 percent of a restaurant's revenue comes from dine-in profits. He maintained there is a "good chance" that dine-in services will be available again.

Under the modified enhanced community quarantine and general community quarantine guidelines, restaurants may operate but only for takeout and delivery purposes.

READ: LIST: Businesses allowed to reopen in Metro Manila, areas under modified ECQ by May 16