Mayor Estrañero holds dialogue with Tabuk bar owners, musicians

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Mayor Darwin Estrañero held a dialogue yesterday evening with bar owners and singers on the latter’s appeal for some reconsideration on the guidelines prohibiting their operations under the Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) status of the city.

The mayor promised to bring the appeal of bar owners to be allowed to operate, albeit with time limits and stricter regulation, for approval of the City Inter-agency Task Force (CIATF) on COVID-19 and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Mayor Estrañero said he understood the plight of bar owners and singers whose livelihood are among those most affected by continued restrictions but emphasized the need to weigh things amidst heightening vigilance due to the threat of the more transmissible Delta variant.

The local chief executive also clarified that he cannot decide on his own to allow the operations of bars but that such move will have to go through the CIATF and  later the DILG for their approval.

The CIATF in their meeting earlier this month had agreed to tighten the implementation of MGCQ guidelines and had sent out a monitoring team to inspect resorts and bars.

Said monitoring team later came up with guidelines in which the line of business to serve alcohol as well as entertainment activities such as live band and karaoke were specifically prohibited. But these were rejected by affected bar owners and singers, citing their struggle to find alternative livelihood amid the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

“We are not here to debate on policy but to hopefully meet halfway with the city government,” said Ansell Villa, owner of Eagle’s Den, during the dialogue with the mayor.

After a lengthy discussion and exchanges, the mayor, Business Permits and Licensing Office (BPLO) chief Pierre Galicia, and other members of the monitoring team, bar owners and musicians present agreed on the following concessions: for bars to be allowed to operate from 11 in the morning to ten in the evening up to 70% maximum capacity with service limited to light alcoholic drinks only; and for singers to be allowed to perform from six until ten in the evening but shall have to stick to a maximum of two-person performances and acoustic performances only.

Bar owners also agreed to install additional barriers and other safety measures to ensure social distancing and to prevent contact between customers, workers, and singers.

Galicia, meanwhile, emphasized that the BPLO will not be tolerating establishments operating without permits, reminding bar owners that a third notice of violation will merit the total closure of the erring establishment.

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