February 15, 2021 at 10:50 pm
Rio N. Araja and Willie Casas
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte has expressed opposition to the decision of the government’s pandemic response task force to allow the reopening of cinemas even as Manila Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso assured movie house workers of free swab tests.
“If we allow it to open, for the few that will agree to open, I think the risk is not commensurate to the gain. Your risks -- people are in an enclosed airconditioned environment, there is no natural ventilation, and they will be sitting there for two hours,” Belmonte said in an interview with ABS-CBN yesterday.
Belmonte said even mall operators are lukewarm to reopening their movie theaters as they might be operating at a loss.
“Even if the screening of movies is allowed, I think many mall operators will still choose not to reopen their cinemas because they don’t see that it’s going to play a big part in terms of economic impact,” she added.
Domagoso said the city government of Manila is open to the reopening but will have to consult with health experts first to ensure that it does not lead to higher COVID-19 cases.
“We need to consult first with medical frontliners, especially those from the Manila Health Department,” he said.
Cinema operators, he said, will likewise have to present their own plans to ensure health protocols are observed if they are to reopen.
“While it is true that we want to open more businesses, are they ready to come up with a plan? While it is true we really want to move on, we need to be responsible, and there are concerns” Domagoso added.
He said swab testing will be a requirement for all cinema workers before they are allowed to operate again
Free COVID-19 tests will be provided to janitors, security guards, ushers, porters, ticket tellers, and snack bar attendants, the mayor said.
The Quezon City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit has already advised against the re-opening of cinemas.
“There are several other variants that have been identified and we don’t know yet how transmissible they are, how they are transmitted compared to the original one, how virulent they are. So, of course, all the more we have to err on the side of caution,” Belmonte said.