Since Metro Manila was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) on May 16, many businesses and establishments have been permitted to reopen, although industries still deemed dangerous or inessential such as cultural centers, fitness studios, and personal care establishments continue to be been banned from operating. However, according to Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez, the DTI is currently considering allowing barbershops and salons to reopen sooner than expected.
The DTI recently conducted inspections of these personal care establishments in order to decide whether or not the sector would be allowed to reopen during a general community quarantine (GCQ). According to the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Lopez, along with National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF) chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez inspected possible health and safety protocols demonstrated by several salons and barbershops. Due to the close-contact nature of these establishments, new safety protocols will definitely be needed should they reopen. "Pinag-aaralan ngayon kung dapat na rin silang buksan," said Lopez in a Laging Handa briefing on May 23.
According to the PNA, Galvez was "very impressed" by what he observed in the demonstrations. "Based on what we will see in the country’s health progress, if deaths and transmissions continue to go down, maybe, we can allow some more [businesses] to open up," he added.
As of now, such establishments are still unable to operate in Metro Manila. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) released updated community quarantine guidelines on May 22. The updated guidelines only allow for "barbershops, salons, and other personal care establishments" to operate "at a maximum of 50% of venue capacity," but note that this is only for areas placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ). If and when these sectors reopen, they will have to undergo an accreditation system in coordination with the DTI, local government units, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government. With such a system in place, earlier openings for personal care establishments may occur if businesses can meet DTI standards.
The testing conducted by the DTI also sought to observe whether restaurants would be able to open for dine-in services soon. For now, we'll have to wait and see.
Main image from Jason Leung on Unsplash.