Cinemas, gyms in Manila to reopen in bid to boost jobs

MANILA The Philippines will allow cinemas and gyms to reopen in Manila, an official said yesterday, after a sharp fall in the daily number of coronavirus infections and increased vaccinations.

Restrictions have been eased in recent weeks as the government shifts its focus to getting people back to work and easing the economic misery caused by hard lockdowns.

Cinemas and gyms, which have been closed for most of the pandemic, will be allowed to resume limited operations tomorrow for fully vaccinated people.

Maximum allowed capacities for restaurants, churches and beauty salons were raised to 30 per cent, as the metropolis was lowered to the third-highest alert level.

Nearly 80 per cent of the adult population in the capital have been fully vaccinated, compared with just over 30 per cent for the entire country, according to official data.

Nationwide virus cases hit a record high of 26,303 on Sept 11, fuelled by the highly contagious Delta variant but for the past four days have fallen below 9,000.

Hospital bed occupancy rates in Covid-19 wards and intensive care units have dropped to below 60 per cent, the data showed.

But the World Health Organisation's representative in the Philippines called for "very clear" messaging about restrictions to avoid "putting people's lives at risk".

"It is not about relaxing or reducing the restrictions - it is about calibrating," said Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the WHO's official in the country.

Social distancing and mask wearing, even among fully vaccinated people, are "critically important to maintain the gains and further strengthen the transmission reduction", he added. - AFP