MANILA — “By implementing strict protocols and localized lockdown, I think our projected rebound is still doable especially in the second and third quarter,” says Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez in an interview.
Scrambling over opening the economy while mitigating the spread of the coronavirus with the arrival of vaccines amid the surge of new cases of COVID-19 infections, variants or mutations—while the Department of Health is still not sure as to which possible factors may have caused the present scenario—the Government has called for heightened observance of minimum public health protocols, to assuage the growing worry among Filipinos of another lockdown.
Looking at the bigger picture, meanwhile, as if echoing what Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles has said earlier, Lopez says, “granular lockdown should be implemented in areas with a spike in Covid-19 numbers to contain the infection while allowing areas with no surge in cases to remain in status quo, even if the Government is pushing for the re-opening of more economic activities.”
The finance cluster expects the economy to post positive growth this year. With Covid-19 cases in the country breaching the 3,000 mark, Lopez says, the DTI is “very flexible and sensitive” in this kind of situation.
He says even the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) allowed for more economic activities to re-open, with guidance from the local government units (LGUs) whether to suspend or postpone the reopening of sectors, as cinemas and arcades, depending on the Covid-19 situation in their localities.
The IATF reset on Friday economic activities as cinemas, libraries, archives, museums, cultural centers, video and interactive game arcades, tourist attractions such as parks, theme parks, natural sites, historical landmarks, and the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions).
“But now that the numbers (referring to Covid cases) are rising, we will understand if they will suspend that part of the re-opening,” Lopez said in Filipino.
“The LGUs have the flexibility to decide on the percentage of the operating capacity of restaurants and internet cafés, among others, if there is an increasing number of Covid-19 cases in their areas,” Lopez explains.
“We, in the economic cluster, want to reopen the economy; but we will not sacrifice the health situation,” he says he points out.
Lopez says, however, the rising number of Covid-19 cases cannot be faulted to the newly re-opened sectors. (JSM/JuanManila)
Featured image: Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez | PCOO