PCCI wants economy to be fully reopened
MANILA, Philippines — The largest business group in the country wants a full opening of the economy, saying the public must “remove our overblown fear of this virus” since it seems impossible to reach herd immunity, despite the fact that the Philippines is seeing an alarming rate of new infections and deaths more than a year into the pandemic.
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said in a statement that any form of lockdown, regardless of scale, will be disruptive to business operations. PCCI wishes for the full opening of the economy even if the herd immunity threshold is not met, said Edgardo Lacson, acting president of PCCI.
“Many health experts claim it is impossible to achieve herd immunity as the virus keeps mutating and the vaccine is always behind the curve,” he said, noting that “the COVID-19 virus and its variants will be here forever” but it can be contained by following health protocols.
“We must remove our overblown fear of this virus and the even greater fear of another lockdown,” he added.
Adding to a confusing mix of terminologies, the government has decided to try a granular lockdown in Metro Manila, wherein different areas can have different levels of quarantine status.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, however, has deferred the pilot implementation of the general community quarantine with alert level system in the National Capital Region.
In the meantime, Metro Manila and other areas will remain on a modified enhanced community quarantine until Sept.15, the Palace said.
“It is a tacit admission by authorities that they will henceforth abandon the intermittent and harmful regional lockdown protocol. Yet, it must be recognized by authorities that a lockdown, whether region-wide or granular, remains disruptive and a disincentive to business operations,” Lacson said.
Nevertheless, Lacson said there was also a positive implication in the implementation of the granular lockdown, since this would remove the discrimination between essential and nonessential business now that both can operate under certain relaxed guidelines.
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