The Department of Trade and Industry urged local government units to extend their curfew limits to 12 a.m. from 10 p.m. to allow restaurants to have longer operating hours and help them break even amid weak sales.
The DTI made the call after the government announced the expanded dine-in capacity of restaurants and diners to 50 percent in areas under extended community quarantine and 75 percent in those under modified ECQ.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said dining establishments were advised to increase their capacity by July 21. The department will issue a memorandum circular to implement the new guidelines within the week, he said.
“All these measures were aligned with the ultimate intention to gradually open up the economy and increase the take-home pay of our workers in the services sector,” he said.
Restaurants will be allowed to operate at higher capacity but only with the strictest health protocol, social distancing and wearing of masks are basic, according to Lopez.
Lopez said the DTI was keeping an eye on restaurants on a daily basis through a digital monitoring system. Around 400 establishments are under surveillance since dine-in operations were allowed in June.
Establishments were 92-percent to 100-percent compliant with the health protocols established by the government, he said.
The Trade Department said salons and barbershops would also allowed to operate at 50 percent of their capacity under general community quarantine and up to 75 percent under the modified ECQ starting July 16.
Salons and barbershops will also be allowed to introduce hair treatments such as hair dye or hair coloring and other similar services.
“We want the grooming and dining establishments to have improved ventilation and exhaust systems, and for restaurants to set-up 18-inch acrylic dividers, if they can afford it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Trade Department will launch an investigation on the so-called barter trade, an exchange of goods and services without using money, for possible violation of tax law.
“This is very unusual. It is allowed in limited places, like in Mindanao where there is a greater need to improve the livelihood of the people. Especially in Sulu, Jolo and Tawi- Tawi where we allowed barter in areas near the sea,” said Lopez.
He said that for places where barter is not allowed, merchants should practice regular transactions and pay the corresponding taxes.
The Trade Department coordinated with law enforcement agencies like the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to identify places and people who engage in barter.
Lopez said barter trade was allowed by the president through the issuance of an executive order, but it was only for very limited locations. He classified barter as an illegal trade act in places not covered by the EO.