Restaurant sector urges gov’t: Trust the vaccinated
One organization of restaurant owners is urging the government to ‘’trust the vaccinated’’ and further reopen the economy, as it joined the clamor of other business groups struggling to survive the country’s balancing act between putting more people back to work and containing the spread of COVID-19.
Eric Teng, president of Resto PH, which counts some 250 restaurateurs nationwide, said the prolonged lockdowns had been hurting minimum wage earners the most.
“A paycheck is as necessary a lifeline as oxygen is to the sick person. That’s not something that’s negotiable,” Teng said in an online interview with the Inquirer on Thursday.
“I would not want to presume I know what it’s like for a person who is very desperate for the basic necessities. They are not getting what they need at home whenever a lockdown is declared,” he said.
Teng had no immediate data available on the size of the workforce reporting to Resto PH members, but he cited 2019 figures from the Department of Trade and Industry showing that more than 2 million people have been employed in the restaurant business.
“If the government wants to trust the vaccine, the government must trust the vaccinated. There is no other way out of it. Trust the vaccinated and that’s it,” he said. “When you fly on a plane, you want somebody either tested or vaccinated. When you let someone in your country, you’re either tested or vaccinated.”
Earlier the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry called for the full reopening of the economy and an end to the lockdowns.
But the government continued to stress the need for quarantine restrictions, tweaking its guidelines as COVID-19 cases pile up by some 20,000 daily for almost a week now.
On Friday, Malacañang said it was shifting policy to do away with large-scale lockdowns and allow more business activity, by introducing a new quarantine system to be piloted next week.
Under this new scheme, Metro Manila would either be under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), but only as a last resort, or general community quarantine (GCQ) with four alert levels.
This system may be piloted from Sept. 16 to Sept. 30, but granular lockdowns would still be imposed in areas with COVID-19 case clusters.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has only “provisionally” approved the guidelines on this system.
Still, he said the new GCQ would be different from the previous GCQ under the old system.
“The activities to be allowed or prohibited would depend on the alert level imposed,” Roque said.
All industries allowed to operate during GCQ would continue during this new GCQ except when alert level 4 is declared, he said.
Under that strictest alert level, activities in enclosed spaces, activities that require contact, and activities done in crowded areas at different levels of capacity would not be permitted.
These include religious or social gatherings, meetings, indoor tourist attractions, personal care services and dine-in services.
Under alert level 3, these activities would be allowed at 30-percent capacity and, under alert level 2, at 50-percent capacity. Under level 1, all these would be permitted at full capacity.
Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing explained that, under alert level 4, residents below 18 and above 65, pregnant women and people with comorbidities would not be allowed to leave their homes.
But public transportation would be allowed to operate during GCQ at any alert level, he said.
He said the Department of Health would determine and conduct a review of the alert level imposed in a given week.
Granular lockdowns as implemented in various parts of the capital region would be “standardized,” Densing said further, adding that the lockdowns would last 14 days and should be backed by the recommendation of the local health official.
Densing also disclosed that the IATF was set to discuss three more issues before finalizing the rules of the new quarantine system.
One is the proposal to have a vaccine bubble in Metro Manila, which according to Densing may be justified by more than half of the target population in the metropolis being already fully vaccinated.
The second is allowing al fresco dining under alert level 4.
The third issue is setting the criteria for declaring the alert level, such as COVID-19 case transmission, incidence of the Delta variant and health-care utilization rate.
Roque said these issues mentioned by Densing were the reason for the extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine.
He also said that if the plea of medical front-liners had prevailed, there would have been another hard lockdown for two weeks.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.