Juxtaposed: Movie theaters’ partial reopening while schools remain closed as some areas shift to Alert level 3

October 14, 2021 - 3:37 PM
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An empty ticket booth is pictured as cinemas remain temporarily closed amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, July 8, 2020. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

The government announced the partial reopening of movie theaters in Metro Manila while schools remained closed amid the still raging COVID-19 pandemic.

Some Filipinos online juxtaposed both situations after restrictions in the region were downgraded to Alert Level 3 of the general community quarantine starting on October 16.

Under Alert Level 3, movie theaters, tourist attractions, theme parks and recreational parks are now allowed to operate at 30% indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and 50% for outdoor venues.

The minimum mandated public health standards should still be observed at all times.

The Department of Interior and Local Government also noted that seatmates will not be allowed inside the cinemas.

The Cinema Exhibitor Association of the Philippines (CEAP) likewise stated this rule as among the protocols they have drawn up to ensure safety among moviegoers.

“Kapag nagbukas po tayo dapat one seat apart muna, tapos the whole time na nanunood ng sine naka-mask ‘yung mga nanunood. Tapos wala munang kakain,” CEAP President Charmaine Bauzon was quoted as saying.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) also approved new quarantine classifications that will start on October 16 until 31.

‘When will schools reopen?’

While some Filipinos welcomed the sought-after reopening of movie theaters, some of them brought up the need to reopen educational institutions in the region too.

Raoul Manuel, national president and first nominee of the Kabataan Party-list, expressed this on Twitter through a graphic.

The text in the graphic read: “Bubuksan na ang mga sinehan, ang mga paaralan, kalian kaya?”

Other online users used the hashtag #LigtasNaBalikEskwela to juxtapose the still-closed schools in Metro Manila with the partial resumption of operations of cinemas and other establishments.

This hashtag was previously used to call on the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Education for the safe reopening of face-to-face classes.

“Ok but how about the schools? Is this the new opium for the middle and upper class? Priorities,” one user said.

“Ito pa ang inuna ng gobyerno over #LigtasNaBalikEskwela. Clearly, our government has misplaced priorities here!” another user wrote.

“Calling on @PhCHED @DOHgovph and IATF to open schools FIRST! Alert Level 3 allows limited F2F for laboratory classes with max 30% capacity,” another user said.

Last February, Tony Leachon, health reform advocate and former consultant of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, suggested for onsite classes to be done in local government units with more outdoor spaces and less COVID-19 cases.

CHED, DepEd preparations

In a briefing on October 11, CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera stated that they are eyeing an expansion of limited face-to-face classes to other degree programs.

“Ang susunod naming pinag-aaralan na, Spox Harry, ay in addition to limited face-to-face by degree program, pinag-aaralan na namin kung puwedeng payagan ang mga eskuwelahan na mag-limited face-to-face in all degree programs in areas that have very low COVID prevalence and also very high vaccination rate,” De Vera said.

As of now, only medicine and allied health courses were permitted to conduct the standard hands-on system of learning since last January.

Last September 21, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea allowed face-to-face classes in the following programs:

  1. Engineering and Technology programs
  2. Hospitality/ Hotel and Restaurant Management
  3. Tourism/ Travel Management
  4. Marine Engineering
  5. Marine Transportation

DepEd, meanwhile, is set to implement its own pilot run of face-to-face classes in 120 participating schools, 100 public and 20 private ones, in low-risk areas of COVID-19 starting on November 15.

Last October 6, DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan in a Senate hearing said that the department is still finalizing the official list of participating schools.