Essential shops in malls are now allowed to operate at full capacity, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. Photo by Michael Varcas/PhilStar

The Philippines has allowed malls and several businesses to reopen further even as the Southeast Asian nation recorded more coronavirus deaths last month.

The task force against the virus outbreak has approved economic managers’ recommendation to reopen more industries and public transport, President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s spokesman Harry L. Roque, Jr., said at a briefing Monday. Essential shops in malls, miners, and money exchanges are now allowed to operate at full capacity, he said.

Restaurants can now operate round-the-clock, while malls can stay open until 11 p.m. Salons and barbershops can also operate at 75% capacity. Current quarantine classifications are also expected to be maintained, and will only be changed as a last resort if COVID-19 cases are rising, Mr. Roque said.

The Philippines is pushing to revive an economy that plunged into recession in the second quarter, despite having the worst outbreak in Southeast Asia with more than 322,000 cases as of Sunday.

Coronavirus deaths rose by over 1,900 in September, the highest monthly increase since the start of the pandemic. New virus cases, meanwhile, decreased to more than 90,000 last month from 127,000 in August. Improved contact tracing has been the critical factor in slowing the virus spread, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at a separate virtual briefing Monday. — Andreo Calonzo and Claire Jiao/Bloomberg