COVID-19 Crisis: DTI calls for gradual shift to Alert Level 1

Are you tired of living with restrictions and government overreach these past two years as a result of the COVID-19 crisis? A lot of people are not just tired of it but also frustrated as many of them saw their loss of income, losing their jobs, the closure of their businesses as well as an enormous negative impact on their lives. To manage the people living under the pandemic all around the Philippines, an Alert Level system was established months ago as part of quarantine in relation to the number of new and active COVID-19 cases. Currently Metro Manila is under Alert Level 2, however in the City of Parañaque the restrictions on the unvaccinated are still in effect. Parañaque is one of four Metro Manila local government units (LGUs) that still have not lifted the restrictions on unvaccinated people while Metro Manila is placed under Alert Level 2.

For economic recovery and the uplifting of the country, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) called for the gradual shift to the looser and more business-friendly Alert Level 1, according to a GMA Network news report. It should be noted that new cases of COVID-19 infections have declined recently.

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

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Wednesday backed the calls to downgrade the quarantine status of the country to Alert Level 1 to open more businesses and jobs amid the decreasing number of new COVID-19 infections.

In a Super Radyo dzBB interview, DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said should the country (shift) to Alert Level 1, which is the lowest in the alert level system, it has to be done slowly as there is still the lingering threat of COVID-19.

“Kung mag Alert Level 1 tayo, na gusto din ni (DTI) Sec. Mon (Lopez) na mangyari pero dahan-dahan lang, nandiyan pa rin ‘yung virus. So, kailangan pa rin nating sundin lahat ng health protocols,” she said.

(If we shift to Alert Level 1, which Sec. Mon wants to happen, it should be done slowly because the virus is still there. So, we still need to follow all the health protocols.)

Currently, the National Capital Region (NCR) and several provinces are under Alert Level 2 from February 1 to 15.

Under Alert Level 2, certain establishments and activities are allowed at 50% capacity indoors for fully vaccinated adults and minors, and 70% capacity outdoors, even if unvaccinated.

Meanwhile, under Alert Level 1, all establishments, persons, or activities, are allowed to operate, work, or be undertaken at full on-site or venue/seating capacity provided it follows minimum health standards. This, however, excludes areas under granular lockdown.

Castelo said about 1.5 million businesses in the country can operate at full capacity if the quarantine restrictions are further eased, thus allowing more people to return to work.

“Pagka nag-100% na, full capacity na lahat ng negosyo, lahat nung nagtatrabaho before COVID, ‘yun na din ang makakabalik ngayon,” she said.

(If the businesses are at 100% or at full capacity, all employees working before the pandemic could go back to work now.)

When several areas in the country, including the NCR, moved from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2, the DTI estimated that around 100,000 to 200,000 employees got back to work. That is an addition of almost 16,000 workers weekly, Castelo said.

It would be nice to see the shift to Alert Level 1 actually happen as it means better economic recovery, more employment and a healthier society. I personally want the government-imposed restrictions on businesses and on people removed. Remember the sudden ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) in Metro Manila that happened last August followed by the ban on outdoor exercise? A lot of people got frustrated with those two Metro Manila unfortunate developments months ago. Observe closely how the Metro Manila mayors and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) behave and make decisions. Oh yes, Benhur Abalos is no longer MMDA chairman.

Meanwhile, vaccination programs and COVID-19 testing are being organized most of the time and the more people get vaccinated, the better for the nation and its economic recovery. It would be great for the Philippines to acquire more Sputnik Light and Sputnik V vaccines as they have proven to be effective in protecting people from the infectious Omicron variant. Very recently, Sputnik Light has been approved for use in India and that is something the national government’s officials should seriously consider for acquiring more vaccines for the entire Philippines.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about the DTI’s call for the gradual adjustment into the looser Alert Level 1? Do you think the national government as well as local government units (LGUs) have gotten too far with governing and managing us people? Do you think that the more people get vaccinated, the more our country will overcome this pandemic?

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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