Philippines tries new tack in COVID-19 curbs to reopen more businessesA man opens his food stall while the government allowed some business establishments to operate with health restrictions on Sep 16, 2021 in Quezon city, Philippines. (Photo: AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

MANILA— Restaurants, salons and other small businesses in the Philippine capital region reopened on Thursday (Sep 16) after being shut for weeks, as the government shifts to localised lockdowns from wide-scale mobility controls in a bid to revive the pandemic-hit economy.

The targeted lockdown approach being piloted in Metro Manila, an urban sprawl of 16 cities and home to 13 million people, may be replicated in other parts of the country if it proves successful in boosting business activity while keeping the spread of coronavirus in check.

“We are elated that our restaurant has reopened. Our employees will now have work,” said restaurant supervisor Luciano Dalay. “They used to be on rotation, but now they will have full duty.”

Outdoor dining is allowed at 30 per cent capacity, while indoor dining is limited to small groups of fully immunised people. Religious gatherings and personal care services are allowed also at up to 30 per cent of the capacity of the venue.

“I hope this continues and it stays like this so personal care services can recover since we are one of the most affected by lockdowns,” said salon supervisor Gracie Alvarez.

The Philippines, which is fighting one of Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, recorded 21,261 new infections on Thursday, with confirmed cases at 2.3 million. Its death toll climbed by 277 to more than 36,000 overall.

It reported its biggest increase of 26,303 new infections last Saturday.