WITH the safety seal granted to nearly 200 establishments in three of Cebu City’s major malls, a local official has expressed confidence that cinemas would also be able to reopen soon.
The Cebu City Government issued safety seal certificates to SM Seaside City, SM City Cebu and Robinsons Galleria Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, after they passed the inspection conducted by local authorities.
Councilor Joel Garganera, deputy chief implementer of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), said the EOC and the Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO) had started the inspections last Monday, Nov. 8.
More than 181 establishments in these malls have been issued safety seals.
Certifications for the Ayala and other malls are expected to follow after the inspections conducted by the BPLO, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the EOC.
Garganera said the safety seal certifies that the malls and the establishments in the malls complied with all health and safety protocols recommended amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
To get the safety seal certificate, personnel of the establishment must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and there must be signage, thermal scanners, proper ventilation, sanitizers, separate garbage bins for face masks, a separate entrance and exit, one-meter distance between tables and queue lanes.
Garganera said Cebu City had only recently started issuing safety seal certificates as what it used to issue was the compliance certificate.
However, they changed this to be in line with the national government in order to give tourists confidence that they will not be infected with Covid-19 when they enter such establishments.
“We have tied up with the DILG, DOT (Department of Tourism) and DOH (Department of Health) because the compliance certificate is for Cebu City only. The safety seal is the standard to increase the confidence of people that this particular area is safe,” said Garganera.
Under Joint Memorandum Circular 21-01 Series of 2021 by the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, DOH, DILG and DOT, otherwise known as the Implementing Guidelines of the Safety Seal Certification Program, a business establishment is eligible to apply for a Safety Seal given that it is duly registered, adopting the Staysafe.ph or any other local government unit-mandated digital contact tracing application, and most importantly, strictly following and implementing the minimum public health standards set by the government.
Garganera said 40 teams within the DILG have been created to help with organization and implementation.
“We have also agreed with the different fast food chains and instructed them to assign additional personnel during times of sale or weekends so that they may help implement compliance regarding social distancing and (ensure) that proper health protocols would still be observed,” Garganera added.
Councilor Garganera and his team started inspecting the areas as early as April and May, putting extra emphasis on proper ventilation.
With all that, Garganera and his team also began inspecting cinemas, and he said that before this weekend, cinemas might be able to resume operations.
“In every cinema, it is not only the cinema that reopens--the lifeblood of the cinema consists of the restaurants surrounding it. And once cinemas reopen, it will create a ripple effect where the cinemas are located,” said Garganera.
However, SM Cinemas said Wednesday it had no reopening schedule yet as it awaits advice from its headquarters in Manila and guidelines from the Cebu City Government for the reopening of cinemas.
In a statement, another cinema operator, Cine Oriente, said it also had not scheduled its reopening “as we still have to comply with Cebu City requirements relating to health protocols. Also, we have to conduct an extensive technical check of our digital projection system which requires calibration before we can operate.”
Cinemas have been closed for more than a year and a half due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
No more face shields
Meanwhile, Cebu City has lifted the mandatory wearing of face shields except in some areas like hospitals, with establishments expected to require the presentation of the Covid-19 vaccination cards of customers entering their establishments.
In a directive issued Nov. 9, 2021, Acting Mayor Michael Rama lifted the requirement to wear face shields except in hospitals, clinics, diagnostic laboratories, other medical facilities and public utility vehicles, except traditional jeepneys with open windows and ventilation.
Rama issued the directive after the convergence meeting he had with various sectors of the community that included officials from the EOC.
Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam welcomed the news, saying: “At last, the local government unit has spoken. We in the business are now seeing more relaxed rules which will bring the much needed economic movements for more consumer confidence and spending.”
During the pandemic, the wearing of face shields was made mandatory nationwide in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19.
But in September, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases lifted the mandatory wearing of face shields while outdoors, limiting its use to 3Cs settings: crowded places, closed contact settings and closed spaces.
Recent announcements also raised the possibility that the IATF would discontinue the mandatory wearing of face shields.
The acting mayor said operators of indoor venues and establishments are expected to check the vaccination cards of their customers on entry to their establishments in order to comply with the guidelines provided for under Alert Level 2.
Who can enter
Under Rama’s Oct. 25, 2021 directive enforcing the Alert Level 2 in Cebu City, establishments permitted to operate under limited capacity, such as dine-in services, personal care establishments and museums, are allowed to operate at a maximum of 50 percent indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only and at 70 percent outdoor venue capacity, provided that all workers of these establishments are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Unvaccinated minors may be allowed indoor accommodation in authorized establishments if accompanied by a fully vaccinated parent or guardian.
It is unclear if unvaccinated minors would be allowed in cinemas, which fall under a different set of establishments dubbed “Business or Activity Allowed, First Time” under the piloted Alert Level 2.
These businesses, which include theme parks and recreational venues like internet cafes and billiard halls, and concert halls, also have limits of 50 percent indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and 70 percent outdoor venue capacity. (PAC, CAL, CTL)