The government has allowed the reopening of gyms, fitness centers, and spas to operate at 20 percent limited capacity starting on June 16 in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal which are currently placed under a general community quarantine (GCQ) bubble, Malacañang said Friday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said aside from gyms and spas, venues for indoor non-contact sports such as skating rinks, and racket sports courts are also allowed to operate at a limited capacity, as long as they obtain a safety certification from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Roque said the decisions were made following a meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
In addition, the IATF has also allowed fully-vaccinated senior citizens aged 65 up, to venture outside of their homes but limited within the NCR Plus zone.
“For purpose of tourism, the 65+ age group are also allowed to travel point-to-point provided they are well beyond two weeks, post-inoculation,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.
Roque said seniors traveling outside their homes should bring their COVID-19 vaccination cards and follow the minimum health protocols.
Under previous IATF policies, only persons aged 15 to 65 years old are allowed outside their residence.
Gyms were among the over 100 businesses given the Safe Seal Certification by the DTI as the government further expands the coverage of industries allowed to operate under the new GCQ.
While there were 115 establishments awarded the Safety Seal, the DTI also disapproved some 105 applications, basically due to non-compliance to the prescribed minimum health protocols.
Lopez said these establishments will need to meet these minimum standards before they can be certified.
Some 600 more applications are pending, he said.
Lopez said the government is optimistic that the 22,000 displaced employees working for gyms and fitness establishments may soon gain employment.
To date, there are more than 2,000 fitness as well as wellness establishments across the country.
The Department of Tourism welcomed the opening of historical sites and museums in NCR Plus albeit at a limited capacity.
The reopening, approved by the IATF, limits tourism sites to 20 percent venue capacity and is subject to health and safety restrictions of the DOT, and other restrictions of the relevant local government unit. Guided tours, however, remain prohibited.
“Our historical sites and museums in the NCR + Area may welcome visitors following the easing of quarantine restrictions. This is part of our efforts to restart tourism and leisure activities in a safe and steady manner, and to help bring back employment. Visitors are still urged to follow the minimum health and safety standards set for historical sites and museums to prevent a possible COVID-19 outbreak,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat.
In May 2021, the government’s COVID-19 task force allowed the operation of outdoor tourist attractions, also on a limited capacity.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, for her part, reminded fully vaccinated senior citizens that they will still need to follow health protocols against COVID-19.
She said that the government has allowed fully vaccinated senior citizens to go outside starting June 16, but this is only for those who have gotten two doses.
The DOH also clarified that senior citizens are allowed to go out but need to be vigilant and follow minimum public health standards to avoid getting infected or infecting others.
Roque said the IATF has issued new guidelines for persons fully vaccinated who wish to travel within the country, including the need to bring vaccination cards.
The guidelines also require a seven-day facility-based quarantine period for Filipinos returning from abroad.
Researchers tracking the pandemic, however, said NCR Plus is not ready yet to be under the most relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
OCTA Research fellow Ranjit Rye told radio dzBB that the average number of new COVID-19 cases in NCR Plus remains high at about 1,000 infections a day.
“Our position in OCTA is let’s look at the data first. Let’s wait for the weekend, maybe we’ll be able to give our position then. But if the decision is made today, we won’t qualify for MGCQ, that’s definite,” Rye said.
“But we’re healing much, much better now than two months ago. But our healing slowed down because the economy reopened, and more people are going out,” he added.
NCR Plus will be under the GCQ until June 15.
Several other areas including Zamboanga City, Iloilo City, and Cagayan de Oro are under the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.
The Philippine logged 6,686 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections to 1,300,349, as three laboratories were not able to submit their data on time, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.
The DOH reported 196 new fatalities, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 22,507.
The DOH also reported 3,190 patients who recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 1,216,497.
There were 61,345 active cases, of which 91.6 percent were mild, 4.3 percent were asymptomatic, 1.2 percent were critical, 1.7 percent were severe, and 1.15 percent were moderate.
The DOH also reported that, nationwide, 58 percent of ICU beds, 48 percent of isolation beds, 47 percent of ward beds, and 35 percent of ventilators, were in use.
In Metro Manila, 50 percent of ICU beds, 36 percent of isolation beds, 33 percent of ward beds, and 32 percent of ventilators, were in use.
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