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Lopez wants to open restaurants to vaccinated diners 

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Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez has suggested to put an age cap on who among the fully-vaccinated individuals can avail of dine-in and personal care services once the guidelines for easing COVID-19 restrictions are finalized, according to a report by Philippine News Agency.

In a taped briefing aired Saturday morning, Lopez told President Rodrigo Duterte that it is “about time” to have a “different approach” in addressing the COVID-19 situation.

“We proposed twice sa IATF to at least i-allow na ‘yung mga vaccinated... doon sa mga areas na bawal sa ngayon,” Lopez said.

Lopez has been pushing to allow fully-vaccinated individuals to avail of dine-in and personal care services that are prohibited under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ.

“[The] middle ground for it to be safe is we allow only the vaccinated,” Lopez pointed.

However, he suggested that only vaccinated individuals who are below 65 years old can be allowed to avail of dine-in and personal care services in lockdown areas.

“Kasi ‘pag vaccinated na above 65 delikado pa rin ‘pag tamaan ng COVID-19, pwedeng maging severe and critical, pero ‘yung mas bata mas malakas,” Lopez said.

“Nasa health experts natin kung gusto nila lagyan ng age [cap]” , he added.

Lopez noted that it is important to at least safely reopen dine-in and personal care services for the vaccinated individuals since these are labor-intensive sectors.

“Itong sector na ‘to mga two million ang employed sa restaurant, mga dine-in. Sa mga salon 400,000 [workers] nationwide,” Lopez said.

“These sectors have been closed since August 6,” he said.

Further, Lopez said relaxing restriction for the fully-vaccinated can be pilot-tested in the National Capital Region (NCR).

“[In] NCR over 50% [have been] vaccinated so I think, hindi magiging severe and critical hindi mao-overwhelm ‘yung ating mga ospital," he pointed out.

All 17 mayors in Metro Manila on Thursday called on the national government to relax the COVID-19 restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals residents in the capital region. 

They argued that the easing of restrictions in favor of the fully vaccinated ones “would not only boost employment, industry, services, and other economic endeavors but would likewise encourage the rest of the population to have themselves vaccinated with the [end-goal] of achieving herd immunity at the soonest possible time.”

Earlier Presidential adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion pushed for the implementation of “bakuna bubbles” in Metro Manila cities with high vaccination rates.

The so-called “bakuna bubbles” are of micro-herd immunity among closed groups, such as homes and workplaces.

He made the proposal to enable the economy to safely reopen while the rest of the population is inoculated.

However, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had warned of legal challenges if the government pushes ahead with the policy, adding some could complain of discriminatory treatment.

Nonetheless, Lopez said the guidelines for relaxing restrictions for fully-vaccinated ones are being finalized.

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