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Video game arcades are reopening in Manila

By Kara Santos Published Mar 04, 2021 2:40 am

Along with the reopening of traditional indoor cinemas, video and interactive game arcades have been given the greenlight to reopen in Metro Manila by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) starting this Friday, March 5, 2021.

According to DTI’s latest memorandum circular, video and interactive game arcades in general community quarantine areas or GCQ (Metro Manila) can now operate up to 50 percent capacity while those in modified general community quarantine areas or MGCQ areas can operate up to 75 percent capacity.

New rules issued by the DTI include regular sanitation of high-touch surfaces and machine consoles, installation of safety barriers between game cabinets to ensure  physical distancing, and the removal of benches in waiting areas to prevent bystanders.

Only specific types of game machines will be allowed to operate, while playlands, soft-play, play houses, KTV rooms, and stage-type videoke rooms where arcade-goers typically gather in enclosed spaces shall be prohibited.

These are subject to mandatory health and safety protocols detailed below as well as any additional Department of Health (DOH) and Local Government Unit (LGU) guidelines that may arise.

Here are the latest guidelines for those planning to visit arcades:

  1. Face masks and face shields shall be worn at all times while inside the arcade.
  2. Implementation of physical distancing of 1-meter apart within the store premises and at queuing areas.
  3. Employees and customers at the arcade are required to scan the StaySafe PH QR Code for contact tracing. For those without smartphones, manual contact tracing will be done.
  4. Maximum number of customers shall be posted at the entrance and strict control of customer inflow shall be observed.
  5. Separate entrance and exit points shall be implemented, and a queuing line outside the arcade with physical distancing markers shall be installed.
  6. Indoor air ventilation systems should conform with applicable protocols and standards.
  7. Operations of playlands, soft-play, play houses, KTV rooms, and stage-type videoke rooms shall be prohibited.
  8. Layout of machines shall be arranged and safety barriers shall be installed to observe the 1-meter physical distancing requirement.
  9. Benches within the play area shall be removed to avoid attracting bystanders.
  10. Cashier booths shall not be placed near the entrance and exit.
  11. A waiting area for customers shall be designated 1-meter from the machine in case of repair or servicing.
  12. Sanitation areas shall be installed in accessible locations.
  13. Transaction processes shall be limited to short greetings and necessary instructions.
  14. Signages reminding customers to observe minimum health standards, avoid risky behavior such as shouting and talking loudly shall be posted within the arcade.
  15. Machines and other frequently touched surfaces shall be regularly sanitized after every use.
  16. Employees shall wear proper PPE, including both face mask and face shield, and shall practice proper hand washing during their duty.

    Prior to the DTI circular issued on Sunday (Feb. 28) and released on Tuesday (Mar. 2), most mayors in Metro Manila expressed apprehension over the reopening of cinemas and video game arcades, as these are fully-airconditioned, enclosed spaces.

    While restrictions in GCQ areas are gradually being eased, it's still unclear whether arcades will be allowing minors, who make up a bulk of their customers. Some leisure establishments in NCR that have reopened, such as museums, currently allow only persons aged 15 to 65 to visit, while those in GCQ areas are less restrictive, provided that minors are accompanied by parents or guardians.

    Kid Amusement Industries or recreation establishments primarily catering to children (e.g., playrooms, rides) are still on the negative list of business activities and are not allowed to operate in areas declared under any form of community quarantine.

    Philippine officials said mayors and health officials could draw additional rules to ensure safety amid the easing of quarantine restrictions in more public areas, including museums, libraries, parks, theme parks, natural sites and historical landmarks.

    (Images via Shutterstock)