RESTAURANTS may soon be allowed to resume limited dine-in operations in Metro Manila and other areas under a general community quarantine.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said in a radio interview on Thursday the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) had given the go signal for restaurants to resume dine-in operations at up to 30% capacity starting June 15.

Malaking portion ng operation ng mga restaurant ang dine-in. Mga 70-80% po ’yan kaya mahalaga po, diyan po nakasalalay ’yung trabaho ng maraming kababayan natin (Dine-in is a large part of restaurant operations. It’s about 70-80%. That’s why it’s important. The work of many depend on that,” he said.

The IATF recommendations will be presented to President Rodrigo R. Duterte for final approval.

Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon, Central Visayas, Pangasinan, Mandaue City, Zamboanga City, Davao City, and Cebu City are now under a general lockdown, while all other areas are under a modified general community quarantine.

Restaurants can have dine-in operations up to 50% of capacity for areas that have shifted to the modified lockdown.

Salons and barbershops may also operate at 30% capacity for areas under a general lockdown, and must limit services to haircuts.

The Department of Trade and Industry has released guidelines on ensuring health safety for dine-in operations, banning buffets and self-service stations and prescribing sanitation measures.

Restaurants must also add floor markings and table dividers for social distancing, and must implement a “no mask, no entry” policy. Kitchen-based employees must be placed in groups according to their tasks.

Restaurants must also provide contactless transaction methods and small trays for accepting cash.

Mr. Lopez said the government, including the Trade, Tourism and Labor departments and local governments will randomly inspect restaurants for compliance.

Hindi na naman ni-require mag-accreditation kasi baka tumagal pa at magkaroon pa ng (We don’t require accreditation because that might take time and it might create) bureaucratic red tape,” he said.

He added that restaurants not complying with the guidelines may be warned or closed down. — Jenina P. Ibañez