RestoPH pushes easing of vaccination requirement for workers under AL 4

Restaurants at SM Aura Premier in Taguig City are seen with dining areas marked to comply with health protocols for indoor dining. Under Alert Level 4, restaurants are allowed to open for dine-in but only at 10-percent capacity for indoor seating, and only for fully vaccinated customers.

The food service sector is asking the government to ease the vaccination requirement for their employees under the Alert Level System (ALS) as many still find it difficult to secure Covid-19 shots.

Restaurant Owners of the Philippines (RestoPH) President Eric Teng said at a Laging Handa briefing on Wednesday said that not all restaurants may be able to comply with the vaccination requirement set by ALS to be allowed 10-percent indoor capacity during Alert 4.

“Sana naman po maintindihan at mabalanse natin ang problema ng restaurant industry. Gusto naman po ng lahat na makapagbukas na bakunado ang staff kaya lang po ’yung ibang lugar po, mga empleyado, sa barangay nila, nahihirapan po silang makakuha ng vaccine. [Hopefully, they can understand and gauge the concerns of the restaurant industry. While everyone wants to open with all their employees fully vaccinated, some staff members cannot get inoculated in their barangays],” he said.

Metro Manila is currently under Alert 4.

Based on the latest guidelines, indoor and outdoor dine-in capacity for restaurants are allowed at 10 percent and 30 percent capacity under Alert 4, respectively, given that their workers are fully vaccinated. The indoor dine-in services are only allowed for fully vaccinated customers.

While Teng appreciated the 10-percent indoor capacity, he is looking forward to when the alert level is brought down to Alert 3 to allow more operations.

Indoor dine-in capacity is allowed at 30 percent regardless of the vaccination status, while al fresco dining is permitted at 100 percent under Alert 3.

The restaurant operators are pinning their hopes on so-called “revenge dining,” especially during the upcoming Christmas season.

Teng said customers have been coming in the restaurants amid the pandemic during celebrations like birthdays and Valentine’s day, especially if the employees are fully vaccinated.

He is expecting more customer traffic given that the many has been in isolation for over a year now.

“So, once [the customers are] comfortable…then I’m sure they will come out again. There will be revenge dining maybe even revenge shopping, revenge vacation…” he said.

Still, the RestoPH head said they will not open if it is too risky for the customers.

The restaurateurs previously asked for the establishment of a lending facility for the food and beverage industry as part of their proposed revitalization program. The credit facility, Teng said, may be offered to dine-in only restaurants, bars, cafes and kiosks with seating capacity as they were likely to be the hardest hit in the industry during this crisis.

Teng also requested for the landlords offering rent concessions or rent discounts to food service sector to be granted tax holidays. He explained this will allow the restaurants to remain functional during and after the pandemic, aiding their recovery.

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