Lopez backs proposal to further ease age restriction

Published January 15, 2021, 4:51 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Minors as young as 10-years-old should gradually be allowed to go out of their houses with their families in line with the government’s efforts to boost economic activity, according to Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez. (ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO FILE PHOTO)

Lopez has backed a proposal to further ease the age restriction for people allowed to go out of their homes as long as strict health protocols are followed, citing the need to revitalize consumer spending and business activity.Since October, the government pandemic task force allowed persons aged 15 to 65 to go out of homes during the community quarantine.

Local government units were given leeway to impose a higher age limit for minors depending on their coronavirus situation.

“Kung tayo ay talagang nagnanais makabalik at maka-recover ang ating ekonomiya, kailangan talagang dahan-dahanin din natin ang pagluluwag pagdating sa age restriction (If we really want our economy to recover, we really need to gradually relax the age restrictions),” Lopez said during the “Laging Handa” public briefing Friday.

“Hindi po masama namang i-consider iyong pagpalawak ng age segment na papayagan na ring lumabas. Importante po, dahan-dahan so kunwari ngayon 15-years-old ang pinakabata, ay puwede nating unti-untiin, maybe 10-years-old (It is not bad to consider the expansion of the age segment allowed to go out of their homes.  It is important that right now, 15-years-old is the youngest, we can gradually ease the age maybe to 10-years-old),” he added.”

Why allow children aged 10 to go to malls and other commercial areas?” Lopez explained that these minors can be asked to follow health measures such as wearing of masks and keeping a safe distance from other people when going out.

“Iniisip din natin, ito naman din iyong hindi malilikot kapag nasa labas. Ito rin iyong basta sumunod lamang sila sa mga protocol – naka mask, naka-shield – I’m sure sila rin mismo mag-iingat (These are the children who are not unruly when outdoors. They can follow protocols such as wearing of masks and shields. I’m sure they are taking precautions),” he said.

“Talagang napansin natin sa ating mga kababayan na talagang sumusunod naman sila dito sa mga minimum health protocol dahil wala namang gustong mahawa (We noticed that our people really follow the minimum health protocols because nobody wants to get infected),” he said.

Even though the government has started to relax the strict lockdown and allow more businesses to operate a few months ago, Lopez observed that the recovery of these businesses seemed restrained. He admitted that the age restriction on people who can go out, shop, and dine has affected the pace of recovery of the economy. 

“‘Yung ngang mga customers na dapat tumatangkilik ng mga, let’s say mga tindahan, mga sa commercial areas at sa mga malls ay limited ang movement dahil nga mayroon pa rin tayong mga age restrictions (The customers who are supposed to patronize the stores, commercial areas and malls have limited movement because we have age restrictions),” he said.”

In other words, iyong atin pong merkado, iyong mga market na ina-address ang mga negosyo na ito, hindi po 100 percent tulad noong pre-pandemic. So limited po ang mga lumalabas, limited pa rin ang nagku-consume (In other words, the markt targeted by these businesses is not yet 100 percent like the pre-pandemic. The people who can go out are limited so the consumption is also limited),” he said.

Lopez meantime voiced confidence in the government’s efforts to manage the spread of the coronavirus even with the threat of the latest variant first detected in the United Kingdom.

The economy could “not afford to go back to tighter community quarantine” since it might lead to a spike in unemployment and hunger incidence in the country, Lopez said.

“Marami pong magugutom, marami pong maghihirap, mawawalan ng trabaho at mas malaking problema po ang haharapin natin diyan (Many might go hungry, many might come poor, lose jobs and that will be a greater problem for us),” he said.

He also expressed optimism that the government’s rollout of the coronavirus vaccines would also boost consumer confidence and provide a “safe environment” in the country.

Lopez also appealed anew to the public to continue to observe health measures to avoid further transmission of the illness. “The more we are successful in opening the economy and still keeping low iyong ating mga COVID-19 virus cases, ito po (our COVID-19 virus cases, it) will allow us further reopening,” he said.