By Ben Rosario
Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion has proposed an extension of two more weeks of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) as the country prepares to progress into a “new normal” phase of living, notwithstanding the ongoing fight against the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19.
“Between the choice of lives lost to COVID and lives lost to hunger, our goal is to reduce the total number of lives lost,” Concepcion emphasized.
Convening on Saturday a video call participated in by 60 business leaders and heads of various organizations, Concepcion said there was a strong recommendation for the mandatory use of face masks by people as soon as they leave their residences.
Also participating in the video call were Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Chief Implementer of the government response against COVID19 Carlito Galvez, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, and Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña, and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
“Our suggestion is to shift from Luzon-wide lockdown to selective quarantine at the barangay level under their respective mayors’ oversight with clear rules and guidelines set by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases),” said Concepcion.
The advantage of this scheme is to allow free movement of supply chain with no need of security checkpoints and truck passes. But the focus of security will be in the barangays, Concepcion added.
The video conference was initiated by Concepcion to allow the Duterte administration’s finance and economic team to brief the business sector of the “latest developments and identify conditions that will trigger a post ECQ scenario”.
The private sector was also asked to take the opportunity to propose suggestions that “can pull its weight to help the country and discuss possible initiatives to transition out of the enhanced community quarantine.”
Concepcion and the business community cited advantages of extending the ECQ to another 14 days which he called as a “transition” period that will usher in the new normal in the country.
“Based on the exchange, we propose four key recommendations that we hope will aid in easing into a “new normal” while preserving the gains from the government’s early response to safeguard the country’s public health,” he said.
Four proposals are being pushed for implementation during the 14-day transition period:
1. Shift implementation from Luzon wide lock down to selective quarantine at barangay level.
2. Opening of operations of manufacturing, construction, and agriculture based on the demand.
3. Prohibition of mass gatherings to continue.
4. Allow reduced public transportation operations.
Under the barangay level quarantine set up, local government units will be authorized to declare the quarantine areas based on guidelines of the IATF.
In re-opening various industrial and food production activities, transport of cargo will be given free access to destinations.
However, excluded sectors will continue to operate with skeletal workforce or under work from home setup.
Malls, schools, entertainment, religious activities will not be permitted during the transition.
On the other hand, public transportation may be allowed but with reduced capacity.
Transportation will be opened to contained services in business areas to facilitate movement of workers safely with strict guidance on social distancing, wearing of masks, and other public health measures.