DTI eyes allowing dine-in services at 50% operational capacity

Marje Pelayo   •   May 22, 2020   •   715

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is looking into the possibility of allowing the resumption of dine-in services but at 50% workforce capacity in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ). 

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said they are planning to visit a number of restaurants and fastfood chains to check their compliance with the government’s minimum health standards and protocols in view of the current crisis brought about by coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

“Napakahalaga ng dine-in. Sa ngayon ho nabubuhay sila sa take-out and deliveries. We were told na about 70% ang revenue na nanggagaling sa dine-in, (Dine-in services are important. For now, [restaurants] are earning through take-outs and deliveries. We were told that about 70% of their revenues come from dine-in service],” Lopez noted during a Senate hearing on Thursday (May 22).

Kapag tayo ay makumbinsi naman na safe po na kumain at mai-implement ang minimum health protocol (If we’re convinced that dining-in is already safe and minimum health protocols will be implemented), we shall allow — we will endorse the opening of dine-in,” he added.

Senator Cynthia Villar during the Senate hearing raised the idea of providing a recovery plan for restaurants particularly the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that might close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Mall owners agree to retain ban on cosmetics sampling, dine-in services even under GCQ

Marje Pelayo   •   May 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 wants to ensure the strict implementation of the new normal setup in crowd-inviting places such as malls and shopping centers especially in Metro Manila. 

The Task Force maintained that mall operations will remain limited even after quarantine measures are lifted.

Specifically, close contact services such as make-up or cosmetics sampling as well as dine-in services in food chains and restaurants will remain prohibited.

Also, mall owners have agreed to install equipment in fitting areas for garments and shoes to ensure that the items being fit will not be contaminated for the protection not only of the customers but the staff as well.

“In make-up [cosmetics], because that requires close contact, that’s a no-no. For apparel, because there are a lot of fitting of clothes, there’s a specific equipment and protocols,” explained Gino Borromeo, the vice president of Strategy Development and Premier Malls Marketing at SM Supermalls. 

“We need to make sure the clothes are clean for fitting and we are working on individual tenants for borrowing best practices from around the world. So expect to see that and the implementation very soon,” he added.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Health (DOH) said that until a vaccine is discovered against coronavirus disease (COVID-19), strict protocols will be implemented in malls. 

Sayang po ang efforts ng Department of Health. Sayang po ang pag- stay natin sa bahay ng two months na hindi tayo pwedeng lumabas kung babalewalain lang din natin (The efforts of the DOH and our sacrifices to stay indoors for two months will be useless if these [protocols] will be ignored),” noted DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo. 

Kapag masyado tayong nag- enjoy na pwede under GCQ, na pwede na po anything, hindi po. The virus is still here, hindi siya umaalis, hindi siya namimili kung nasa ECQ, MECQ or nasa GCQ. It’s there hanggang hindi po sinasabi ng DOH safe na (If we enjoy too much the relaxed restrictions under GCQ — thinking that anything is allowed now under GCQ— that is not the case. The virus is still here, it has not gone away and it doesn’t discriminate between ECQ, MECQ or GCQ. It’s there until DOH says it safe already),” she added. 

Mall officials agreed to adopt and maintain the one-meter physical distancing measure, the ‘no mask-no entry’ policy and the regular body temperature checking at the mall entrance. 

Likewise, malls will impose a ‘one-way traffic’ wherein directional arrows will be installed to guide shoppers of the proper entry and exit within the mall.

There will be constant advisory of the proper health and safety protocols that mall goers should practice as part of the new normal in the establishment. 

“This is gonna be a long situation, the cure is not there yet. The vaccine is probably not there yet. So we have to do this for a longer period of time so we have to continue our lives while following new normal practices especially distancing and disinfection,” noted Lafayette Lim, the CEO and president of the NCCC group of companies.

Mall officials also remind shoppers to always bring their quarantine pass.

Senior citizens, likewise, need to be accompanied by only one relative when inside the mall. 

Age restriction will be strictly imposed, therefore all 21-year-olds and below will not be allowed.

Wi-Fi connection will be cut and cooling units will be lowered down to moderate to discourage bystanders. 

As an added measure, mall owners are planning to install UV light equipment to aid in the disinfection of facilities and items inside the mall. 

The DOH advised the public to get used to the new normal within the mall premises until a vaccine for COVID-19 is discovered. 

“Ginagawa na po ng gobyerno, ng mall owners ang kinakailangan (The government and mall owners are doing what is necessary),” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Ang kailangan naman po ngayon ay ang ating mga kababayan na sumunod sa mga pamantayan at maging reponsable din (What the public needs to do now is to obey with the regulations and be responsible),” she concluded. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Consumer group appeals to DTI to lower SRP of prime commodities

Maris Federez   •   May 9, 2019

Price watch group, Laban Konsyumer, has filed an appeal before the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to lower the suggested retail price (SRP) of prime commodities following the easing down of the Philippines’ inflation rate.

Based on the latest report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the country’s inflation rate has gone down to three percent in April – the lowest since January 2018.

Laban Konsyumer president Vic Dimaguiba said it is high time for the DTI to come up with a new SRP and that prices of a number of products; such as canned sardines, instant noodles, soaps, bottled water and other condiments, should have already been reduced.

“Ang amin pong panawagan eh napapanahon na para maramdaman naman ng mga consumer yang three percent inflation sa pamamagitan ng pagbaba ng presyo sa mga pangunahing bilihin [Our appeal is this. It is already high time that the consumers feel the three percent inflation thru the lowering of prices of basic commodities],” Dimaguiba added. (with details from Joan Nano) /mbmf

Manufacturers want price increase despite DTI’s appeal for price drop

Marje Pelayo   •   January 17, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) tried to persuade manufacturers to rollback their prices during the National Price Coordinating Council Meeting on Thursday (January 17).

The DTI met with manufacturers of milk, biscuits, juices and canned products to discuss its proposal.

The agency argued that the cost of raw materials and ingredients has already gone down therefore they should also cut the prices of their products.

However, sardine manufacturers refused to heed DTI’s call because the price of herring or tamban remains high.

Herrings now sell at P32/kg from its previous price of P19/kg, the manufacturers claimed, that’s why it is not possible to lower the price of canned sardines.

“Ang cost nila ay hindi sa oil, not because of oil, not because of TRAIN kundi ito ang main ingredient which accounts for 47% of their production cost which is fish,” explained DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez.

Meanwhile, manufacturers of canned meat did not ask for a price increase. However, they project a price increase once the Rice Tarrification Bill becomes a law.

This is because the measure will require an increase in tariff on imported meat from 5% to a staggering 40% in exchange for the lowering of tariff on rice.

Meanwhile, the DTI sees only a slight effect of the TRAIN law in the price of basic goods.

But according to supermarket owners, manufacturers may opt to add to the prices of goods the amount of tax that they will be required to pay.

“Pricing is a management decision so whether they want to increase because they don’t want to shoulder the increase in excise tax on gasoline and fuel prices, then we will see some price increase adjustments,” said Steven Cua, president of the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarket Association.

The Duterte administration’s economic managers project that inflation rate in the first quarter of 2019 will rise only by 4%.– Marje Pelayo (with reports from Mon Jocson)


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