Greater mobility urged for vaccinated persons

Published May 31, 2021, 4:13 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The private sector has called for greater mobility for vaccinated individuals without the need for a PCR test and doing away with different health clearances to pave the way for a return to normal economic activities.

Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion raised the proposal at the “Let’s Go Bakuna” webinar on the need for those vaccinated to return to some normal activities prior to the pandemic.

“Those taking the vaccines should be given more mobility. And that’s the way, I believe, we should do moving forward and that is when we say, greater mobility, seniors who have taken the vaccines should be allowed to go out,” said Concepcion.

Concepcion further said that those who have completed their jabs should be allowed to travel to different areas in the country without the need for PCR test anymore.

“ That’s our proposal … and we do away with all of these health clearances,” he added.

In the meantime, he said the current Bakuna Card or vaccine card being deployed by LGUs to their constituents is a good start. But this card should eventually move into a National Vaccine Card or national health card.

As more vaccines are coming in, Concepcion expects that NCR Plus, which has 25 million people who are considered as very risky could achieve herd immunity by end this year. NCR alone has 30 million people.

However, given some delays in the arrival of the private sector vaccines, Concepcion said he would be happy with 50 to 60 percent of NCR Plus immunity as already creating a huge impact.

“I think we will be able to really achieve great success by the end of the year the fourth quarter is going to be, I believe, a good quarter for all of us. If we are able to at least come close to 70 percent I mean, I’ll be happy we’re 50 60% of NCR plus that will be a huge impact,” he added.

With the election and Christmas spending, plus the stimulus packages will be released, he said, “I think this will be the impetus that we can see a better 2022.”

Concepcion, who is also founder of Go Negosyo, downplayed detractors who called his proposal discriminatory. “I don’t believe it’s discriminatory, it’s still a choice whether that person wants to be vaccinated or not, the consequences are, of course, of increasing mobility,” he said adding “If you are vaccinated, you should be allowed to have more movement, to have more access to products with less hassle.”

Concepcion’s proposal also gained traction from other industry sectors, such as restaurants, hotels, retailers, and franchises.

Eric Teng, president of the Restaurant Owners of the Philippines, said the industry is not expected to recover until 2025 to its 2019 pre pandemic level. Thus, he urged government to free up the seniors 65 years old and allow them to dine in restaurants.

He wondered why restaurants have been targetted with limited capacities when in fact there is not enough data to show that they are the major source of infections. The only data they got was from Quezon City, which showed that only half of one percent of infectees can be traced from restaurants.

They have offered promos for vaccinated people, but he noted that unless those inoculated, particularly the 65 years old persons, are allowed to go out they cannot recover earlier.

“If vaccine is the solution, why then is government afraid,” he asked adding, “We are on a virtual collapse.”

Rosemary Ong, president of Philippine Retailers Association, also supported Concepcion stressing that increasing mobility of those with complete COVID-19 shots should help boost the retail industry, which

is comprised of micro and small enterprises.

George Barcelon, chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also urged the government to accelerate the rollout of vaccines to achieve the 600,000 doses daily and continue contact tracing to boost the confidence level of the public.

He, however, differed with the opinion of health reform advocate Dr. Tony Leachon about giving people choices as to the brand of vaccines. He explained that given the limited vaccines, any individual should take the readily available vaccine as long as it is approved by the World Health Organization and the Food and Drugs Administration.