By Noreen Jazul
A business and finance group recommended the “calibrated easing” of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) which is expected to end on April 12.
In a statement Thursday, the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) said the “hard lockdown” has had an“effect on people’s livelihoods and ultimately also endanger public health.”
FEF said safeguards and hygienic measures must still be observed even if the government eases restrictions and allow a “limited resumption of economic activity.”
The “calibrated easing,” according to the FEF, must be done under certain conditions.
FEF said social distancing and the use of face masks should be mandatory.
Social distancing, according to FEF should be “enforced aggressively for all activities.”
Public transport should also be allowed after April 12, given that public utility vehicles are disinfected before and after every trip, the FEF said.
“The lack of public transport is particularly injurious to the poor and harms public health,” it added.
Car-sharing meanwhile must remain banned, except if passengers of the vehicle were “from the same origin.”’
FEF also recommended the removal of “checkpoints between LGUs.”
“Allow free movement of all goods with disinfection measures before and after every trip,” it said.
The group also suggested that only barangays and neighborhoods identified as virus hotspots be placed under a “hard lockdown.”
When the enhanced community quarantine ends, FEF said the government should allow factories and offices to reopen, but “continue ban on congregations of more than ten.”
“Stagger working hours when appropriate,” it added.
FEF also called on the government to “allow the operation of essential stores like hardware stores, supermarkets, groceries, and the like.”
The business group said doing mass testings or random testings will give the government “valuable data for decision points.”
FEF also suggested that the government do a weekly evaluation to assess whether restrictions should be eased or dialed up.
Private sectors were meanwhile encouraged by the FEF to provide financial or other forms of assistance to help curb the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis in the country.
Other recommendations of the FEF are:
a) Continue the all-out support for our frontliners, particularly our heroic doctors, nurses and other health workers.
b) Temperature taking at hotels, malls, and workplaces. Install hand sanitizer stations strategically in all malls and buildings. Install hand-washing stations where possible.
c) Build quickly for surge capacity: temporary COVID-specialized hospitals in all regions and quarantine hotels to house PUIs and PUMs.
d) Mobilize the private sector to produce face masks and Personal Protective Equipment, and to use supply chain connections to import ventilators and other medical equipment.
e) Ensure that all LGUs implement a uniform policy on checkpoints and curfews as mandated by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).
f) Continue quarantine of seniors and immune-compromised individuals.
g) Continue ban on mass gatherings of any kind including classes, religious gatherings, or public events.
Led by its chairman, former Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo, FEF is an organization “dedicated to advancing the cause of economic and political liberty, good governance, secure and well-defined property rights, market-oriented reforms and consumer protection.”
Among its members are “former and present Cabinet secretaries and undersecretaries,” including Finance Undersecretary Romeo Bernardo which serves as the group’s vice chairman, and “leading figures in the academe, respected media personalities and opinion-makers, and prominent members in the business and finance community.”