DTI: Barbershops, gyms, churches may reopen in areas under modified GCQ

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A barber gives a demonstration of cutting a customer's hair under the 'new normal.' (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 29) – Life in areas under modified general community quarantine will return closer to normal this June, as relaxed rules will now allow people to return to salons, gyms, and even places of worship.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said sectors which have been classified as "category 4" or restricted industries due to the nature of close contact among patrons will be allowed to reopen in most parts of the country now considered at low risk for more COVID-19 infections.

Barbershops, gyms and sports facilities, and personal care services will be allowed to open in areas under modified GCQ. Restaurants may also be allowed to accept dine-in customers, but all should be at 50 percent capacity to maintain social distancing, Lopez said.

"Under sa GCQ, not allowed but in the next level, the modified GCQ – it's part of liberalizing and opening the economy rindito maa-allow na sila. All areas under modified (GCQ) can start to operate itong mga businesses na ito at 50 percent operating capacity," Lopez told CNN Philippines' The Source.

[Translation: Under GCQ, they are not allowed but in the next level, the modified GCQ – it's part of liberalizing and opening the economy – they will be allowed there. All areas under modified (GCQ) can start to operate these businesses at 50 percent operating capacity.]

"'Yung mga place of worship, under modified GCQ, they are allowed at I think 50 percent of capacity also. 'Yung pinag-uusapan ngayon is referring to a GCQ situation. In other words, whether we allow more people for religious services under GCQ," he added.

Lopez noted that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is considering the suggestions of religious leaders in their bid to reopen churches, mosques, and other prayer halls even in Metro Manila and other GCQ areas following their Tuesday meeting.

To recall, other industries restricted in enhanced as well as general community quarantine set-ups are theaters and cinemas, kid amusement facilities, libraries, museums, cultural centers, travel agencies, and massage parlors, among others.

All other establishments are allowed to resume full capacity in GCQ and modified GCQ areas. 

Lopez added that the task force is also in talks to consider barbershops as well as dine-in meals in GCQ areas. He said that salons and barbershops appear to be more "advanced" in their preparations to ensure the safety clients and staff, with some establishments proposing full protective gear for hair stylists to limit contact.

Meanwhile, hotels and tourist spots may reopen at half capacity in modified GCQ areas.

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All facilities must adhere to minimum health standards at all times, specifically the wearing of face masks, temperature checks, and proper social distancing to prevent the spread of the disease, Lopez said.

Still for errands

The DTI chief noted that while restrictions have been relaxed in Metro Manila and other provinces, heading out should still be limited to running errands and reporting to work. Traveling to and from Metro Manila to another GCQ area will also be allowed, but not for leisure.

"As a general guideline, the movement of people would still be for an essential purpose," Lopez said regarding GCQ areas.

RELATED: Malls and retail stores in the US are reopening. But shoppers may not come back

Gatherings such as business meetings should be limited to 10 or fewer attendees in GCQ cities and provinces, with the government still favoring work-from-home and video conferencing arrangements for industries which are not service or operations-intensive.

Leisurely strolls inside malls are also discouraged, but the Cabinet official said there's no hard time limit set for each person visiting these establishments.

For people looking to buy clothes, Lopez also discouraged trying on items in the store to limit skin contact. Instead, people can rely on existing rules for the return and exchange of products if found unfit to the buyer.

For small businesses and lessees of commercial space, Lopez said firms can negotiate with their landlords for the waiving or deferment of rental fees to give time for sales and operations to pick up. While the DTI has no power to tell property owners not to collect rent, the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act requires a 30-day grace period for payments.