The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has assured the business community of no hard lockdowns despite the rising cases of COVID-19 infections, driven by the highly infectious Omicron variant.
In a statement, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) revealed getting an assurance from Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez that instead of hard lockdowns, restrictions would be enforced on the mobility of unvaccinated individuals.
Lopez made the assurance during the inaugural courtesy call of the groupâ€™s new board of directors and officers yesterday.
Present during the meeting were PCCI president George Barcelon; Felino Palafox, vice president; Eunina Mangio, vice president; Perry Ferrer, vice president; Sergio Ortiz-Luis, director and treasurer; Samie Lim, director; Alfredo Yao, director; Alegria Sibal Limjoco, former president and chair; Alberto Fenix and Edgardo Lacson, past presidents; Sallie Lacson, area vice president for South Luzon; Tess Ngan Tian, area vice president for National Capital Region; and Ruben Pascual, secretary general.
Other DTI officials present at the meeting were Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba, Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona, Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo, Assistant Secretary Allan Gepty and Undersecretary Ireneo Vizmonte.
During the meeting, Lopez assured the business community the government is doing its best to ensure the safety of both the people and businesses.
â€œWith a high level of the vaccination programme and medical treatment already put in place, we may have to change some protocols toward favouring the vaccinated instead of implementing lockdowns,â€ Lopez said.
He said mobility of unvaccinated individuals would be limited compared to those who have received shots against COVID-19.
He said the protocol may be implemented not only in Metro Manila but nationwide, through the issuance of guidelines by local government units.
In addition, he said the pandemic task force is also considering the implementation of home-based antigen testing as an added protection for the asymptomatic or those not showing symptoms of the virus.
Barcelon welcomed the pronouncement as a no lockdown policy is seen to provide stability to business and sustain recovery.
â€œWe are happy that the government is no longer imposing hard lockdowns as a safeguard measure against increasing Omicron cases. Otherwise, it would be difficult again for our economy to recover if businesses will be shut down,â€ he said.
He also pushed anew for the groupâ€™s request to be part of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
By being part of the IATF, he said the issues and concerns of the business sector would be properly relayed and considered.
Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Risal, and Laguna are under Alert Level 3 until January 15.
Starting January9, the provinces of Bataan, Batangas, Cagayan, Pampanga, Zambales, as well as the cities of Angeles, Baguio, Dagupan, Iloilo, Lapu-Lapu, Lucena, Naga, Olongapo, and Santiago would also be placed under Alert Level 3.