METRO Manila mayors will submit a “formal notice” opposing the national government’s decision to allow movie theaters to reopen, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said on Sunday.
MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos said the mayors were drafting the notice it would send to the Interagency Task Force for Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
“We should really open up the economy. But napagkasunduan ng majority na ‘wag muna as far as cinema is concerned (But the majority of Metro Manila mayors agreed not to open as far as cinema is concerned),” Abalos said in a radio interview.
He noted that movie theaters are enclosed and air-conditioned spaces where people stay for more than 30 minutes, conditions that increase the risk of coronavirus transmission.
The World Health Organization have cited studies showing that people who share enclosed spaces for approximately one hour with symptomatic coronavirus cases were prone to catching the virus.
“Halos wala din naman nagpo-produce ng sine ngayon (Almost no one produces movies nowadays anyway),” Abalos noted.
He said they recognize the need to open up industries to stimulate the slumping economy, but stressed that the process should be “gradual.”
“Ang nakakatakot dito ay baka mag-spike ulit eh, ang hirap bumalik sa dati (We are concerned of a possible spike, it will be hard to return to square one,),” he lamented.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said cinemas in general community quarantine (GCQ) areas would be allowed to operate at 50-percent capacity.
In a Viber message to reporters on Sunday, Lopez said cinemas in modified GCQ areas, on the other hand, would operate at 75-percent capacity.
The IATF-EID had also approved the reopening of driving schools, game arcades and museums.
Metro Manila mayors have misgivings about the easing of restrictions for cinemas.
Lopez said the move “was reviewed by experts in the technical working group of IATF-EID with the Department of Health, DTI, Department of Tourism, Department of [the] Interior and Local Government, [and] Department of Finance.”
He stressed that extra safety protocols such as [proper] ventilation wouldbe required.
“Cinemas in MGCQ (modified GCQ) areas have been opened already. So, it’s approximately half of the economy that is still in GCQ where cinemas will be opened. According to the industry, they have around 300,000 jobs that rely on the industry, with industry size of around P13 billion prior to pandemic,” said Lopez.
The movie industry estimates it shrunk to P1.3 billion in 2020, he added.