By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday urged the government to carefully weigh the proposals to relax the quarantine rules for local businesses after the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is lifted in Luzon.
The decision on whether or not to allow business operations to resume after April 30 should depend on how effective government measures were in containing COVID-19 during the lockdown, he said.
“‘Yang mungkahi na ‘yan, masasagot lang kung epektibo po yung ginagawa nating community quarantine. Dapat tingnan natin mabuti yung datos na lumalabas, yung statistika na lumalabas, para makita natin kung epektibo ba o hindi. Dahil kahit gusto na ng mga negosyante magbukas ng kanilang mga shopping mall pero kung kumakalat pa rin ho yung virus, eh delikado ‘to para sa lahat at para sa kanila na rin,” Gatchalian said in an interview over radio DZRH.
(Such proposals can be answered if the community quarantine that we are now implementing is effective. We should look at the data, the statistics so we would know if this is effective or not. Because if businessmen wanted to open their shopping malls while there is still an outbreak, then it would dangerous for all, including them.)
The senator said that some “minimum conditions” should be met before the government decides to lift the ECQ.
He cited a recent study conducted by the University of the Philippines (UP), which predicted a decrease in transmission rate and a flattening of the coronavirus curve within the next few weeks. The study said the government should make sure that COVID-19 “has been managed well” before changes are made to the ECQ.
“So the possibility of lifting the lockdown is very high kung tuloy-tuloy (if this development continues),” Gatchalian said.
He also reiterated the importance of implementing the mass testing of suspected and probable COVID-19 patients, particularly at the local government level, as well as strictly following social distancing rules.
With the projected decrease in the transmission of the coronavirus and other measures, he expressed optimism that the country’s situation will improve by the end of April.
Government economic officials and business groups have been calling for a modified quarantine as an alternative to the ECQ to resume economic activity in the country.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases said on Tuesday that it is discussing measures to be implemented after the Luzon-wide ECQ.