DTI chief: Allow more businesses to reopen
MANILA, Philippines — Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said more businesses should be allowed to fully reopen and expand their current capacity even if the current general community quarantine (GCQ) would be retained.
This, he said, would allow more people to return to their jobs, ease hunger and boost consumer confidence.
“What we have been pushing for really is that, as much as possible, we can keep the same enforcement, we can keep the same minimum health standard, but please, after six months, we should reopen already the remaining sectors, that’s my appeal,” he said.
As long as minimum health standards are strictly observed, businesses can safely reopen, he added.
“It’s been six months and the virus will not go away. Our real solution is to reopen more, allow more workers to come in so that we can bring back jobs and then income,” Lopez said.
Even if an area would remain under GCQ, he asked that businesses currently operating at 50-percent capacity be allowed to operate at full capacity.
These included those in publishing, music and TV production, film, legal, accounting, management consultancy, architecture, engineering, advertising, science and research development, market research, computer programming, recruitment and placement for overseas employment, photography, and wholesale and retail trade.
Allowing them to operate at 100-percent capacity will help employment numbers, he said, adding that business confidence in the country is down as recovery has been slow.
Lopez also said that the interagency task force was pushing for “more sectors to reopen” even if Metro Manila and other areas were to stay under GCQ.
He, however, clarified that this did not necessarily mean a shift to a modified GCQ, or an MGCQ. For example, the permitted businesses under GCQ could increase their operating capacity instead, from 50 percent to 100 percent.
“There are ways without going to MGCQ to reopen more sectors, [such as] by really adjusting their operating capacity. And that means more workers could return to their jobs,” he said.
Lopez said there were still other business activities that would be allowed only under MGCQ.
For one, cinemas and live events—which could draw crowds and therefore pose a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure—were not allowed under GCQ but were permitted under MGCQ at 50-percent capacity.
Members of the Metro Manila Council were for increasing the maximum allowable capacity for businesses allowed in GCQ areas.
Jojo Garcia, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority general manager, said that should Metro Manila remain under GCQ, industries under category 3 must be allowed to operate at more than 50-percent capacity.
These included shopping malls and commercial centers, restaurants, barbershops and salons and hardware stores, among others.
—With reports from Roy Stephen C. Canivel and Meg Adonis
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