PH in better position to further relax quarantine restrictions next month, NEDA chief says

Published February 1, 2021, 4:43 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The country could further relax its quarantine restrictions next month amid the highly anticipated rollout of the government’s vaccination drive, according to acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua.


Chua admitted that the economy could no longer afford a return to a stricter pandemic lockdown, adding that the vaccination drive is expected to boost public confidence and revitalize the growth.

“We will go through another month of GCQ (general community qurantine) but I’m confident iyong pagdating ng vaccine (the arrival of  the vaccines) and the data that may show that we can better manage the economy by reopening further and safely,” he said during a televised press briefing Monday.

“We have shown that in October, November, December, iyong nagbukas po tayo, hindi naman nag-spike ang cases. Pababa nga iyong sa slide na pinakita ko (when we opened the economy, there was no spike in cases.

There was a decrease based on the slide I showed). So I think, after this month, we should be in a better position to relax further,” he added.

Even as he pushed for the safe reopening of the economy, Chua said public cooperation is still needed in terms of compliance with minimum public health standards.

“We strongly believe with the data that we are seeing and if everyone cooperates, I think we can further relax after this month,” said Chua, head of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The local economy shrank 9.5 percent in 2020 as the pandemic restrictions dampened business operations, domestic consumption, and displaced many workers. 

The country’s quarantine status has also been extended for the month of February as the cases of coronavirus surged past more than half a million. 
Metro Manila will stay under GCQ for the month of February to curb the spread of the outbreak. Other areas under GCQ are Cordillera Administrative Region, Batangas, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Davao del Norte, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur.

The rest of the country will stay under the least restrictive modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) this month.

“We have been in GCQ or higher in the Metro Manila area for already 12 months, so to the extent that we can continue with it, it’s really going to put our economy in a very difficult position,” Chua said. 

The announcement of the country’s latest quarantine level comes ahead the government’s planned free inoculations to fight the coronavirus illness.

Coronavirus vaccines secured from Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sinovac are among the first to arrive this month.

Chua said the vaccination will improve public confidence on the health care system since the medical frontliners will be among the first to be vaccinated.

“People will not be as afraid na to go out because they know the healthcare system will be there to protect them, to care for them when needed,” he said. “When confidence increases, that’s where you see the economy coming back,” he added.