A DAVAO-based business leader is worried that Davao City might elevate from Alert Level 2 to a higher alert level classification system due to a surge in Covid-19 cases, which would affect business operation following again.

Restaurant Owners Association of Davao City Inc. (RestoDC) president Benjamin Lizada said members of the group have discussed the possibility of barring unvaccinated customers in restaurants due to increasing Covid-19 cases.

Health experts said the recent spike in active cases is due to gatherings during Christmas and New Year.

Lizada said the discussion came up following the surge of cases in Metro Manila.

"If disallowing the unvaccinated from entering our establishments would result in fewer infections and thus prevent the IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases] from upgrading the city’s classification from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 3 or 4, then we are for it. Ok mi ana," he said in a Viber message.

But Lizada, in a phone interview, said the responses within the group were mixed.

He said some restaurant owners are pushing to restrict the unvaccinated to help the city achieve its target vaccination rate. Some restaurant owners, however, are opposing it since some are already struggling to get more customers.

"The last thing we want to happen is mag-slide na pud ta sa Alert Level 3 or 4 kay gwapo naman ang dagan nato sa Alert Level 2. Arang-arang ang negosyo sa Alert Level 2 (The last thing we want to happen is we will shift again to Alert Level 3 or 4. Right now, under Alert Level 2, business has been doing better)," Lizada said, adding that not even the City Government has control in the Alert Level classification.

The business leader said raising the city’s alert level would affect the business sector considering that they just recently recovered from their losses from the previous year following the influx of customers in the Holiday season.

According to the IATF guidelines, dine-in capacity is allowed up to 50 percent, plus additional 10 percent if it has a Safety Seal for areas under Alert Level 2, while only 30 percent plus 10 percent increase with Safety Seal for Alert Level 3. No dine-in will be allowed for areas under Alert Level 4.

While Lizada said he is personally in favor of restricting customers who are unvaccinated, he said this would least likely be implemented considering there is no national law or guidelines that legalize it.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio also opposed restricting the movement of unvaccinated individuals.

The mayor explained in a radio interview on Monday, January 10, that the City Government, since the start of the Covid-19 vaccination in March 2021, did not make it mandatory to the public.

She said unless there will be a national law or guidelines restricting them, the city is not keen on implementing rules against unvaccinated persons.

But Duterte-Carpio said establishment owners are at liberty to impose their own policies.

Lizada said as of now, they have not yet received reports that its member restaurants are imposing such measures. He added that most restaurants impose that unvaccinated customers are only allowed to dine at the alfresco area, which is sometimes not followed.

He said the group is now encouraging its members to get vaccinated with the booster shot.

On January 15 to 18, Lizada said a booster shot vaccination dubbed as Booster by the Sea will be initiated for the vaccination of the tourism sector employees, including those in the restaurant business.