AGE restrictions will continue to be implemented whether dining indoors or outdoors under Alert Level 3 in the National Capital Region (NCR), but there may be room for local government units (LGUs) to ease them.
Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez told the BusinessMirror, “Only allowed [to dine in restaurants] are APORs (authorized persons outside of residences) and those with essential errands, including medical reasons. So yes, [age restrictions in dining establishments] are same as Alert Level 4 [where] children below 18 and those above 65 are not allowed.”
Under the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF) Guidelines on the Implementation of Alert Levels System for Covid-19 Response in Pilot Areas dated October 13, 2021 for Alert Level-3: “Intrazonal and interzonal travel shall be allowed subject to reasonable restrictions based on age and comorbidities, as may be determined by the LGUs, which should not be stricter as those prescribed under Alert Level 4 and subject to the oversight, monitoring, and evaluation of their respective RIATF (Regional IATF). Provided, that those below 18 years of age, and those belonging to the vulnerable population, shall be allowed access to obtain essential goods and services….”
While there are no longer age restrictions for staycations in Metro Manila hotels certified by the Department of Tourism to offer staycations, in the case of dining in restaurants, “There should be a special reason for children and those over 65 years old for being out. That’s why it just depends on LGUs if they will allow [those aged below 18 and above 65 years] to pass by al fresco dining to eat before going home,” explained the chief of the Department of Trade and Industry.
Lopez also clarified that under Alert Level 3, managed buffets will continue: “Yes. With servers and all safety protocols.”
New dining guidelines
Under Alert Level 3, restaurants are allowed to offer more seats to guests, whether for those vaccinated or the unvaccinated. “Dine-in services in food preparation establishments such as kiosks, commissaries, restaurants, and eateries, subject to DTI sector-specific protocols” are allowed to operate at a “maximum of 30-percent indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only, and 50 percent for outdoor venue capacity,” according to the IATF guidelines. This means restaurants and other dining establishments with a Safety Seal issued by the DTI are entitled to another 10 percent additional seating capacity, such that it will be 40 percent of total capacity for indoor dining, and 60 percent for outdoor or al fresco dining.
Also, workers/employees of these establishments have to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and minimum public health and safety standards should be strictly maintained. “Provided further, that there is no objection from the LGU where these activities may take place,” the IATF underscored.
Metro Manila was put under Alert Level 3 on October 16 with health experts seeing a reduction in Covid-19 cases especially of the Delta variant. As of said date, the Department of Health recorded 7,772 new Covid cases, raising the total recorded Covid cases to some 2.71 million. In the NCR, 62 percent of the 1,500 Intensive Care Unit beds have been utilized, 39 percent of 4,900 isolation beds have been used, 44 percent of 4,300 ward beds, and 46 percent of 1,000 ventilators.