Entertainment establishments have been allowed to resume operations in Puerto Princesa City as Palawan downgraded to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) starting Monday (June 1).

Lawyer Arnel Pedrosa, the city administrator, said Monday that bars, movie theaters, and other entertainment facilities are now allowed to open for business.

“[They can operate] subject to the curfew hours between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and [strict] social distancing,” Pedrosa said.

Pedrosa clarified that all other issuances have been superseded by Executive Order No. 2020-28 signed by mayor Lucilo Bayron on May 29, including the prohibition of public consumption of alcoholic beverages.

“[It was] superseded but subject to City Council’s decision,” Pedrosa explained when asked to clarify the resumption of bar operations.

Business establishments welcome relaxed guidelines

Business establishments welcomed the relaxed guidelines allowing resumption of their businesses and vowed strict compliance of the protocols set by the Department of Trade and Industry.

Russell Fernandez, public relations officer of SM City Puerto Princesa, said they welcome the guidance that under the MGCQ, restaurants can offer dine-in services again at limited capacity in compliance with the minimum health standards issued by the Department of Health (DOH).

However, not all restaurants at their mall opened on June 1, particularly the national brands. Multinational fast-food chain Jollibee, he said, is yet to open pending advice from its head office.

“Yong dine-in, hindi pa lahat nag-operate, especially yong national brand kasi may hinihintay pa silang advice from their head office kasi may sariling protocol sila. Like Jollibee, parang sa June 3 pa sila magbubukas,” he said.

Although Philippine buffet restaurant chain Cabalen has opened, Fernandez said, its management will not yet offer smorgasbord where diners can serve themselves from a common area.

Fernandez said SM City Puerto Princesa’ mall operation is committed to ensuring that its tenants strictly follow the minimum health standards imposed by the DOH and the Department of Trade Industry (DTI).

“Wala pa rin munang buffet. Like si Cabalen, hindi pa siya mag-o-offer ng buffet. No common serving area for food, utensils, and condiments muna. Ang mall operation is involved sa pagche-check na sila ay sumusunod, in fact, more than the minimum health standards pa ang pinapatupad kasi committed kami to keep mallgoers safe,” he added.

The Scheer family, which operates Bavaria Club 54 Bar and Restaurant, said they have looked forward to the day when they can operate again despite the limited capacity that has been advised under MGCQ.

“Maski paano makakapag-umpisa na ulit. Matagal din kasing walang income from our restaurant. In operating our restaurant again, our commitment is to strictly implement the health standards so we will not be an area where COVID-19 can spread,” Verena Scheer said.

Under the issuance, Category IV industries may resume operations at a reduced capacity of at least 50 percent. Establishments were also told to enforce minimum health protocols such as wearing face masks and regular disinfection of utensils and other equipment to minimize contact exposure between the patrons.

(With reports from Celeste Anna Formoso)