COVID-19 Crisis: DTI keeps pushing on for businesses to be open on all alert levels

The road to full economic recovery during this COVID-19 pandemic remains rough and bumpy as the national and local authorities continue to struggle between health and economics. The last enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila were very damaging to the economy as a whole. Fortunately for the businesses and the employees, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) continues to push hard for economic recovery as a new proposal was made to allow all businesses to remain open at all alert levels with varying limits on capacity according to a recent Philippine News Agency (PNA) report.

From September 16 to September 30, 2021, Metro Manila was placed under Alert Level 4 of the new system of quarantine (which includes granular lockdowns) and during this particular period, businesses were literally given some breathing room as personal care service joints and restaurants were allowed accommodate vaccinated customers to spend time inside their respective locations but with specific limits on in-door capacity. DTI is pushing for something better economically.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the PNA report. Some parts in boldface…

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is proposing to allow all businesses to remain open at all alert levels but varying operating capacities.

The idea is business activities, economic activities should continue at all alert levels and you just change the operating capacity. So at least there is still (business) continuity,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said in an interview with ABS CBN News Channel (ANC) Thursday.

He added that operating capacity should be reduced when an area reached Alert Level 4.

Under Alert Level 4, indoor dine-in and personal care services are allowed at 10 percent capacity for fully vaccinated customers only, while outdoor dine-in and personal care services can operate up to 30 percent operating capacity.

“So there’s containment, there are a bit of more restrictions, but at least you allow the business activities to continue,” Lopez added.

The trade chief is also hopeful that the alert level system in Metro Manila will ease to Alert Level 3 starting Friday.

Lopez said some 76,000 to 80,000 businesses did not operate even under the alert level system since the current protocol does not allow some sectors to operate.

Moreover, he said DTI is pushing for the inclusion of gym operations in Alert Level 4 considering that fitness clubs and centers are essential businesses.

“We’ve been arguing that exercise is really one vital activity to increase their immunity level. In fact, they allowed outdoor exercise at all levels. We were just saying, for indoors, we just manage it,” Lopez said.

Lopez said the DTI stands ready to assist enterprises as the agency continues to offer financing packages to businesses affected by the pandemic.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about the DTI’s latest move to improve the economic situation? If you are a business owner who has at least ten employees to take care of, what do you think the DTI, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Metro Manila Council (MMC) should do to make things better for doing business in Metro Manila? Do you believe that the people responsible for the last ECQ and MECQ in Metro Manila cared about hot issues like unemployment, loss of income and business closures?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.


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