GYMS, internet cafes, and testing centers have been allowed to increase operating capacities starting Nov. 1, as Metro Manila and six other areas were kept under a general lockdown.

Also placed under a general quarantine were Batangas province,  Lanao del Sur, Bacolod City, Iloilo City, Iligan City and Tacloban City, while the rest of the country will be under a more relaxed modified general community quarantine.

Testing, tutorial and review centers, along with gyms and sporting facilities will be allowed to operate at 75% capacity in areas under a general lockdown, and at full capacity under a modified general lockdown.

Internet cafes, dermatological clinics, personal care and pet grooming, drive-in cinemas, travel agencies and tour operators may also operate at these capacities. Personal care services include businesses offering hair and nail care and full body massages.

In a memo issued on Oct. 31, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it had increased the allowed capacities as long as these businesses follow public health guidelines requiring the use of face shields and frequent disinfection.

It also recommended additional control measures, including the use of foot mats and appointment scheduling online. The agency listed additional mandatory protocols for different types of establishments.

Examinees at testing centers must bring their own pens and pencils. On-site review classes are allowed only for health-related licensure exams.

For gyms, group workout sessions such as zumba and yoga classes are banned. Customers may only remove their masks once they start their individual workouts, where they will also be required to stay two meters apart.

Gaming at internet cafes is not allowed, because the computers may only be used for work and education purposes for up to two hours a visit. Computer cubicles must be one meter apart on all sides.

The agency also requires frequent disinfection of gym equipment, computers and personal care grooming equipment.

In a statement on Sunday, the Management Association of the Philippines said they supported the easing of control measures in malls, along with the adoption of safety protocols.

Malls are now allowed to offer free internet access and to lower air conditioning temperature.

“It is a bold step intended to lessen the impact of COVID-19 on our economy, which is estimated to lose P6 billion daily even with the easing  of community quarantine for most parts of the country,” the business group said.

Government agencies including DTI will monitor the establishments for compliance. — Jenina P. Ibañez