COVID-19 Crisis: DTI Secretary Lopez pushes for easing of protocols for fully vaccinated people

Previously, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez proposed to allow vaccinated people to dine in food-and-beverage joints as well as enter the personal care service establishments during the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ). This past weekend, the Philippine News Agency (PNA) reported that the DTI Secretary is back and called for the easing of protocols for people who have been fully vaccinated and Metro Manila could be the region to have such moves pilot tested within.

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

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez has endorsed tweaking of community quarantine protocols by allowing more mobility for fully vaccinated individuals.

During President Rodrigo Duterte’s Talk to the People aired over the weekend, Lopez told Duterte that “it is about time to change our protocol” in terms of easing some restrictions for the vaccinated population.

“We were discussing the need to have (a) different approach in terms of solving Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019); not just lockdowns,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.

The DTI chief said under the new protocol, fully vaccinated individuals could be allowed in restricted economic activities, such as dine-in services in restaurants and personal care services.

He said this would allow safe reopening of the economy as fully vaccinated people have protection against the Covid-19.

People with complete vaccines are unlikely to develop severe to critical Covid-19, he added.

These are labor intensive. These sectors, there are 2 million individuals employed in dine-in restaurants. In salons, there are around 400,000. This is nationwide,” Lopez said.

The trade official said this could be pilot tested in Metro Manila, as the National Capital Region has more than 50 percent of its eligible population for Covid-19 vaccines already got their jabs.

The above article ended stating that the guidelines of the protocol are being finalized. It is very clear that lockdown and restrictions on businesses result a massive loss of income and a rise on unemployment. The DTI Secretary’s proposal is part of an effort to ensure that the Philippine economy will recover and rebound, and if you have been paying close attention to the number of Metro Manila cities that have been vaccinating their patients, there are now millions of fully vaccinated people in the National Capital Region (NCR) combined. In the City of Las Piñas alone, their fully vaccinated patients had reached almost 315,000 as of September 11, 2021. In Muntinlupa City, the number of fully vaccinated patients is almost 200,000.

You travel along Aguirre Avenue inside BF Homes subdivision and you will see lots of restaurants, coffee shops and personal care service providers located along the long road. A lot of them have been struggling because of the prohibition on customers from entering and spending time inside those business joints. You go to Filinvest City in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, and search for a place to have a nice meal at only to be disappointed that you cannot dine inside and will have to order for take-out. Take-out and delivery are the current options that food-and-beverage joints have when it comes to serving their customers but those options are not good enough to help them survive. For me, DTI Secretary Lopez’s proposal makes sense and it will help not only the struggling businesses and the unemployed, but also improve economic activity.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about Secretary Lopez’s latest move? Do you believe it is time to ease the protocols with the many millions of fully vaccinated people in Metro Manila?

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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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: Marikina City Mayor speaks out against national government over flip-flop related to extended MECQ for Metro Manila

Someone had to speak out about the unpleasant surprise that affected us Metro Manila residents and stakeholders. This is about the most recent flip-flop that the national government committed regarding quarantine control over the National Capital Region (NCR) and Marikina City Mayor Marcy Teodoro slammed the national authorities which the Manila Bulletin thankfully magnified by reporting about it.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Manila Bulletin news report. Some parts in boldface…

Marikina City Mayor Marcelino “Marcy” Teodoro slammed the national government on Wednesday for its last minute decision to defer placing the National Capital Region (NCR) under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and retained it under the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) until September 15.

“Tingin ko, hindi lang mga negosyante ang nagalit, madami ding mga mayor ang nagalit. Dapat may kahandaan talaga at hindi magdulot ng kalituhan sa ating mga kababayan yung mga ganitong pangyayari (I think not only the businessmen were angry about the decision, even the mayors were also infuriated. There should always be preparedness in these situations to avoid confusion),” Teodoro said in an interview with DZBB Wednesday morning.

“Tandaan natin, Inter-Agency Task Force ito, IATF, naririto na lahat ng departmental agencies operating at the secretary’s level kaya dapat kung may mga pahayag, dapat maging malinaw ang mga ito. Pangalawa, yung mga guidelines, yung mga implementing mechanisms nito kung papano ipapatupad ay malinaw, at hindi lang sa malinaw, kundi napapanahon dapat ang pagpapatupad (Remember, this is an inter-agency task force. All departmental agencies operating at the secretary’s level are here, that’s why all announcements should be clear. Second, all guidelines and implementing mechanisms should be clear, and not just clear, but timely as well),” he added.

Teodoro said Metro Manila mayors, as well as the IATF, held a meeting yesterday regarding the quarantine classification of Metro Manila.

“Hanggang kahapon nung magmeeting kami ng umaga, nagsimula ang meeting ng alas nueve ng umaga hanggang alas dose, ala una, eh hinihingi nga namin yung malinaw na guidelines, pero wala pang maibigay sa amin. May naibigay na draft, pero hindi pirmado (Yesterday, we had a meeting that started at 9 a.m. and lasted until 12 or 1 p.m. We were asking for the clear guidelines. However, they did not give us any. They just provided us with a draft, and it was not even signed),” Teodoro said.

“Tapos, after two hours, eh nabalitaan namin na nagkaroon ng meeting ng mga alas tres ng hapon na nag emergency meeting ang IATF at hindi na nakausap muli ang mayors buhat noon (After two hours, we found out that the IATF held an emergency meeting at three in the afternoon, but the mayors were left out),” he added.

Teodoro said all the mayors were asking for are clear guidelines for the GCQ with granular lockdown system’s implementation because a lot of preparation are needed for it, especially in terms of manpower and logistics.

“Narinig nalang namin yung pahayag sa media na (extended na ang MECQ) (We just heard the announcement in the media that the MECQ was extended),” Teodoro said.

Wow! The details in the above excerpt are quite revealing! The Metro Manila mayors met with the IATF and the latter provided the local government heads an unsigned draft in response to the request for guidelines. Then the IATF had an emergency meeting leaving the mayors out. Something seems fishy and the Mayor of Marikina City had the courage to reveal publicly what exactly happened.

For the newcomers reading this, Metro Manila was supposed to revert back to general community quarantine (GCQ) as announced by the national authorities and then the flip-flop happened shortly after. As I mentioned before, businesses and their employees in the food-and-beverage sector as well as those in the personal care services sector have been negatively affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) itself does not make life easier for them. And then there is the lack of an explanation from the national authorities about the flip-flop.

Already one local business was reported by CNN Philippines to have been affected negatively by the national authorities’ flip-flop. I encourage you to read the news article.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction about Marikina City Mayor Teodoro’s slamming of the government over the flip-flop? Do you think the IATF is working hard right now to prepare for the next announcement on community quarantine in Metro Manila? Are the members of your local community ready for a potential granular lockdown like what happened in Parañaque City?

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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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: DTI says restaurants in MECQ areas are allowed to have outdoor dining

In what is clearly a move with economic recovery in mind, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez declared that restaurants (located in places under MECQ or modified enhanced community quarantine status) with outdoor dining services and set-ups are allowed to resume but with certain limitations.

To make things clear, below is an excerpt from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) article which was published just yesterday. For greater emphasis, some parts are in bold.

In a text message to reporters Sunday night, Lopez said food establishments with alfresco dining services are only allowed up to 50 percent capacity, with diagonal seating arrangement and acrylic dividers on tables.

He added that indoor dine-in services are still not allowed in areas under MECQ, but food establishments can continue to operate with their take-out and delivery services.

From April 12 to 30, the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal or the NCR Plus as well as Santiago City in Isabela, and the provinces of Quirino and Abra were also placed under MECQ.

Earlier, the DTI chief said that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) might be sensitive in allowing indoor dine-in due to the highly contagious new variants of Covid-19.

“The IATF recommended to the President to shift to MECQ after two weeks of ECQ to restore more jobs and livelihood for the people,” Lopez said.

Clearly the local authorities are trying hard to balance themselves between economics and public health as new cases of COVID-19 (China Virus) continue to be counted in very high numbers on a daily basis in recent times. On April 2, the count of infections reached over 15,000.

Going back to the issue of allowing restaurants with outdoor dining (AKA alfresco) within the MECQ areas, it is good news that they are allowed to resume operations. It will still be a challenge for food establishments to attract enough paying customers and make their business’ financial ends meet.

On a personal experience, I love eating ramen and Tsukemen at Sigekiya Ramen in Alabang. I prefer that such meals would be cooked by the restaurant and be served to me at a table at their place. The alternative of taking the cooked ramen out and consume it at home is just not a convincing option for me because ramen is meant to be consumed quickly while it is hot. The alternative of taking home ingredients and noodles, and have them cooked at home does not appeal to me as I prefer Sigekiya’s cooks make the meal I paid for.

A delicious meal like this one is best to be eaten at the restaurant, even outdoors.

Also located in Alabang is the local branch of Akrotiri, a really fine restaurant that serves authentic Greek meals that my family and friends enjoyed. They also have meals that, in my opinion, are best consumed at their place and their Alabang branch (Commercenter to be precise) has space for outdoor dining. It was at Akrotiri Alabang where I treated 2019 SEA Games gold medalist Kim Mangrobang to a meal and organized an exclusive interview with her. They really have a fine-looking place. Visit their website at https://akrotiri.ph/

It is important to keep in mind that restaurants around the nation have struggled a lot since the pandemic started last year. These business establishments are also struggling with retaining their respective employees, notably their cooks, the baristas, waiters and waitresses. Remember that the meals and drinks you enjoy would not be the same when the people who prepared them get laid off.

With the DTI’s declaration of allowing food establishments with outdoor dining setups and services to resume, I encourage you my readers to consider supporting these businesses for your food and beverage needs. If you can’t have a meal with the family outdoors, perhaps you can push through with a business meeting with a corporate associate or reunite with your friend or relative with the outdoor setting of a restaurant while adhering to health protocols (wearing face masks, face shields, sanitizing yourselves, etc.). 

Now, let’s observe how the mayors, the barangay captains and other local authorities in MECQ areas will react to DTI’s declaration. You also might want to check with the local restaurants and coffee shops if they allow outdoor dining. Consider taking time out to call them or verify on their respective social media channels/accounts to see if outdoor dining is allowed.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673