COVID-19 Crisis: More than 43,000 businesses certified with Safety Seals

Since its implementation months ago (click here, here and here) the Safety Seal certification program has covered a lot of business establishments and offices (including government). Recently, it was reported by the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that more than 43,000 business establishments nationwide have been certified safe as Safety Seals were issued to them. This is really good news because our nation badly needs economic recovery as a lot of workers lost their jobs and income as a result of the last enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that happened in Metro Manila as well in other regions. The national economy has clearly been damaged not only by COVID-19 but also by the lockdowns (note: observe closely how the top officials of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Metro Manila Council think and act when making their recommendations to the IATF).

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

A total of 43,332 public and private establishments nationwide have been issued safety seal certifications, an assurance to the public that health protocols are put in place amid the quarantine restrictions.

The safety seal certification program indicates the compliance of establishments to the minimum public health standards (MPHS) set by the government.

In a news release issued Tuesday, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the certification program is beneficial to the country’s recovering economy as it boosts the confidence of consumers in going out and patronizing business in the new normal with the assurance that a business establishment is compliant with health protocols.

He encouraged more businesses to adopt the seal as an effective measure in curbing the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Businesses can do their share in the fight against the pandemic and create a healthy space for consumers to transact their purchases and for employees to gainfully and safely earn a living,” Lopez said.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año told owners of establishments, especially those in areas under strict quarantine restrictions, to take the time to apply for a safety seal.

Applying for a Safety Seal is not mandatory. However, business establishments are highly encouraged to apply since this will also help them attract customers which eventually leads to increased sales and profit,” he said.

Since its implementation in May 2021, a total of 85,731 applications were received by the issuing agencies as reported by the Safety Seal Technical Working Group (TWG); 50.54 percent or 43,332 applications were approved while 11.50 percent or 9,858 applications were either denied or referred to the appropriate agency.

The remaining percentage represents those that are still in the inspection process.

“I commend and congratulate the establishments that have taken the lead in securing their Safety Seal certifications. This will build confidence that their respective companies are committed to ensuring the health and safety of their stakeholders and workers,” said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

Under the program, a business establishment is eligible to apply for a safety seal given that it is duly registered, adopting the Staysafe.ph app or any other local government unit-mandated digital contact tracing application and strictly following and implementing the MPHS.

“The implementation of the Safety Seal Program is a very laudable initiative that highly reinforces our country’s response to combat Covid-19. As we gradually reopen our economy, it is important to ensure that our people are safe, and adherence to Minimum Public Health Standards is one vital key to this aspect,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) also reaches out to tourism establishment owners to get the seal.

“The Safety Seal certification program bodes well with the DOT’s priority to ensure the health and safety of both tourists and tourism workers. Let us continue to make travel fun and safe for all,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

The Safety Seal Technical Working Group assured the public that the government exerts the best efforts with a whole-of-government and whole-of-society coordination in support of the Inter-Agency Task Force’s Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) strategy.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: As a consumer, are you confident that economic recovery will happen over the next twelve months? Are there still many business joints in your local community that are operating without Safety Seals? Do you believe that the MMDA and the Metro Manila Council should be held accountable for every job lost as a result of their recommending ECQ to the IATF?

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 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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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: Metro Manila still under Alert Level 4 until October 15, 2021

In case you missed the news, the national authorities extended the Alert Level 4 status on the entire Metro Manila until October 15, 2021, according to a Manila Bulletin news report. While the said status looks the same, there were some changes made in favor of certain businesses as well as churches organizing indoor worship services which I personally like.

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

The government’s pandemic task force has extended the pilot implementation of the new Alert Levels System for coronavirus (COVID-19) response in the National Capital Region (NCR) until October 15 but agreed to relax some of the Alert Level 4 restrictions.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement as Metro Manila’s Alert Level 4 status ends on September 30.

In a statement on Thursday evening, September 30, Roque said the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious DIseases decided to extend the pilot run of the new COVID-19 response strategy until October 15, 2021.

While Roque’s statement did not specify if Metro Manila will be kept under Alert Level 4, the second-highest of the five alert levels, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said confirmed in a text message that the region will still be under the same alert level.

Meanwhile, Roque said that the IATF has approved the recommendation to increase to 20 percent the operational capacity of indoor services such as dine-in, in-person religious services, and personal care under Alert Level 4 for those fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The IATF initially allowed the said services to cater to the fully vaccinated indoors at only 10 percent seating capacity.

Operational capacity for outdoor dine-in, religious, and personal care services will remain at 30 percent.

The task force also approved the recommendation to reopen fitness studios and gyms at a limited 20 percent capacity for fully vaccinated individuals. However, gym workers should also be fully vaccinated.

Both gym clients and service providers are required to wear face masks at all times. Group activities are not allowed.

According to Roque, the said indoor services are allowed to increase their operational capacity by another 10 percent if they have a safety seal certification.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this latest development? If you are a business owner who badly needs customers to avail of services indoors, are the recent changes good enough? If you want to worship the Lord on Sunday during worship services indoors at your local church, were the mentioned changes good enough? Is your local government unit (LGU) doing a sufficient job on having you and your fellow community members vaccinated for COVID-19?

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’s latest attempt to boost business operations in areas under Alert Level 4

While businesses in Metro Manila’s areas under Alert Level 4 have been allowed to operate and cater to customers with specific limits for outdoors and indoors, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) continues to push forward with boosting their operations even more and it could happen soon according to a recent report published by Philippine News Agency (PNA).

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

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said the agency is considering increasing the allowed operation capacity of businesses in areas that will be under Alert Level 4 next month.

This, as the pilot week of the alert level system in Metro Manila has been a “good start” and “safe”, Lopez said in an interview with CNN Philippines Wednesday.

We consider bringing operation capacity up from 10 percent to 20 percent because it is deemed safe, and customers are highly complying (with the protocols). It makes sense to give a little more support on this protocol,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.

He added this could start by October, after the last day of Alert Level 4 status in Metro Manila.

Metro Manila is currently under the new alert level system, in which outdoor dine-in operation is allowed up to 30 percent, and 10 percent for indoor dine-in services.

Same operation capacity was also applied for personal care services.

Aside from increasing the allowed capacity in stores, Lopez said the agency is also considering reopening the gyms under Alert Level 4.

Protocols under Alert Level 4 are equivalent to the current modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) protocol.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this latest development? Were you able to personally visit a restaurant or a personal care service joint here in Metro Manila since the start of the Alert Level 4 implementation? Has everyone in your local community been vaccinated for COVID-19?

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 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: Trade Secretary Lopez proposes allowing vaccinated people to dine in food-and-beverage joints, and enter personal care service joints during MECQ

Nothing changes the fact that the restrictions imposed on businesses as a result of lockdown or the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) caused damage on the national economy in the forms of rising unemployment, added business hardship and the loss of income for the affected employees as the national authorities struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) declared that the nation’s economy would lose at least P150 billion per week in relation to Metro Manila and other areas being placed under the most restrictive quarantine measure while the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) announced that the economy should be reopened to prevent any more economic damage. ECOP already stated that lockdown is no remedy.

For the newcomers reading this, under ECQ and MECQ, dining inside food-and-beverage joints and availing of indoor services of personal care service businesses are forbidden. Restaurants, coffee shops and related food-and-beverage joints are limited to take-out and deliveries. Very recently, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez has a proposal to help the food-and-beverage joints and personal care service providers and literally give more breathing room to consumers who have already been vaccinated. Take note that already the government announced that more than 50 million new COVID-19 vaccines will come into the country in September and October.

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

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez is proposing to allow vaccinated people to dine-in in restaurants and enter personal care services establishments in areas under stricter quarantine measures.

In a Viber message to reporters, Lopez said this will help spur employment in those sectors.

Same MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) but [I] am pushing for allowing vaccinated to [be] allowed only in these restricted sectors like dine-in and personal care. Because we are saying that in these restricted sectors, those who are vaccinated are safer. So, we don’t expect an increase in severe critical (cases) and should not worsen ICU (intensive care unit) cases,” Lopez told reporters in a Viber message.

We pity the dine-in workers. About one million jobs and P1.5 billion revenues gone per week in the National Capital Region (NCR),” he added.

Lopez said that on top of these, 200,000 jobs in the personal care services sector in NCR were also affected.

“For other sectors, no need for distinguishing because both the vaccinated and unvaccinated are allowed. For example, both vaccinated and unvaccinated are allowed to go to malls or ride public transport,” he said.

“Again to clarify, [vaccinated should be allowed] only in restricted sectors during lockdowns like dine-in, personal care services, and meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions. If it’s not locked down, all vaccine status should be allowed subject to operating capacity,” he added.

Lopez, however, clarified that these should be allowed to operate at a maximum of 20- percent capacity.

“We believe in the vaccine. So, we should believe in the vaccinated. This should also serve as an incentive to those who are vaccinated and to encourage vaccination. With this, we help bring back jobs, open up these sectors,” said Lopez.

He said that once approved, this will be part of the new Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) guidelines.

Metro Manila and other Covid-19 critical areas were earlier placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until August 20.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) disclosed that the two-week ECQ will cost the Philippine economy P120 billion and aggravate poverty.

In relation to the details emphasized by Trade Secretary Lopez, the affected businesses within the restricted sectors can be relieved economically and already there are millions of vaccinated consumers available in Metro Manila to come in and support these businesses even though the maximum capacity is fixed at 20% under MECQ. The unemployed and the under-employed impacted by the ECQ/MECQ will finally get the opportunities to be hired and be able to earn much-needed income. That being said, it is a must that we pray in supporting Lopez’s proposal to get approved so that our nation as whole can recover better and that MECQ won’t be too damaging for businesses and workers anymore.  

Speaking of the National Capital Region (NCR), pay close attention as to how Metropolitan Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos and the members of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) will perceive and react to Lopez’s proposal of allowing food-and-beverage joints and personal care businesses to cater to vaccinated customers at limited capacity during MECQ. Take note that during the last ECQ, it was the MMDA and MMC who approved the restriction on outdoor exercise while businesses and their employees kept losing! Think about how these Metro Manila authorities think. That being said, it is essential to pray to our Lord to enlighten and guide all the government officials so they can do their jobs better and correctly.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Do you agree with Trade Secretary Lopez’s proposal to help the affected businesses during MECQ? If you are still unvaccinated, does this recent development encourage you at all to get vaccinated? If you are an owner of a food-and-beverage joint or a personal care services joint, what do you think about Lopez’s proposal in helping you and your employees?

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: ECQ in Metro Manila to be extended beyond August 20?

The Manila Bulletin reported yesterday that Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos confirmed that he and the National Capital Region (NCR) mayors will meet very soon to talk about the possible extension of the ongoing enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) which itself was announced to last until August 20, 2021. Meanwhile, a GMA Network news report states that the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) expressed that a lockdown is not the remedy and that the reopening of the economy is necessary.

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

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos said he and the mayors of the National Capital Region (NCR) will discuss the possible extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period in the metropolis this coming week.

Abalos made this revelation in an interview over DZBB radio on Sunday, Aug. 15.

“Martes or Miyerkules mag-uusap po kami, marami kang babalansehin diyan (We will talk either Tuesday or Wednesday, you have to balance a lot of things there),” said Abalos, who is the concurrent chair of the Metro Manila Council (MMC).

He said the factors that need to be considered in such talks are the number of those who will have no work as a result of the possible ECQ extension, the hospitalization rate for coroanvirus disease (COVID-19) cases, and the number of vaccinated persons in Metro Manila.

“Kasi kung mag-i-ECQ ka, ayuda nanaman yan eh (Another round of ECQ means another round of cash aid),” he pointed out.

Abalos reiterated in the interview that the mayor-members of MMC have yet to come to an agreement on whether or not to extend the imposition of ECQ, contrary to a news report over the weekend.

“Hindi pa po nag-uusap tungkol doon, pag-uusapan pa lang po (We haven’t talked about that yet, but we will),” he noted.

The report quoted MMC chair, Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez as saying that the local chief executives have agreed during a meeting to extend the ECQ up to Aug. 30. Abalos has denied this, saying that Olivarez was just misquoted.

In addition, Abalos and the Metro Manila mayors should be aware of the presence of the Lambda variant in the Philippines. For sure that will be discussed in their meeting.

Now, we focus on the economic side with this excerpt from the GMA news report. Some parts in boldface…

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) on Saturday said reopening of the economy is necessary to prevent further economic damage and job losses, along with continued rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and adherence to health protocols.

“It’s time we learn that lockdown is not the remedy,” ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said in a statement.

“Let’s compromise, we have to think that the economy is more important and we have to live with COVID-19,” he said.

Ortiz-Luis made the statement amid speculations of possible extension of the two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila after August 20.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier said that the possibility of extending the ECQ in Metro Manila for another three weeks is not yet on the table, and talks of a five-week ECQ are mere rumors and disinformation.

Citing government estimates, Ortiz-Luis said lockdowns cost the economy P150 billion a week, or P300 billion for the two-week ECQ.

Further, he pointed out that the estimated lockdown losses are on top of business closures that lead to unemployment.

“It would have been much productive and useful to channel even a fifth of these losses to strengthen our healthcare system to address the cases and for prevention measures,” the ECOP chief said.

Ortiz-Luis, likewise, noted that the number of deaths related to the coronavirus is small compared to those who die due to other diseases, and even suicide and hunger.

He said there is thus a need to intensify monitoring of severe cases as a large majority of COVID-19 infections are asymptomatic.

“Let us not be fixated on the numbers. Instead, let us intensify and fast-track our vaccination.

“Let us not forget practicing health protocols and comply with quarantine classifications. Continue adding hospital rooms, facilities, COVID-19 centers…,” he said.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Do you think that the MMDA and the Metro Manila mayors will recommend an extension of the ECQ knowing that such a move will require another round of releasing cash aid/ayuda? Do you think the ECOP is correct with the economic damage estimates of P150 billion per week of lockdown?

Within your city of residence, are you satisfied with the way that your local government and its partners are organizing the registration, set-ups and COVID-19 vaccination operations?

Did you hear the recent news about a fully vaccinated patient (two doses in Mandaluyong City) who somehow got a third shot of COVID-19 vaccine in another city?

Still within your city, how many people do you personally know lost their jobs because of the most recent ECQ? Are there any business owners you know who had no choice but to scale down operations or shut down entirely all because of the ECQ?

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: ECQ for Metro Manila announced (August 6 to August 20, 2021)

A lot of people were very surprised yesterday with the sudden announcement that Metro Manila will be placed under the stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) status effective August 1 until August 20, 2021 supposedly in connection to the rising spread of the highly infectious Delta variant (Parañaque and Las Piñas each have one) and COVID-19 cases in general. It is surprising because very recently it was announced that the National Capital Region (which Metro Manila is clearly part of) would be placed under the strict form of general community quarantine (GCQ) from August 1 to 15, 2021.

Take note that the Metro Manila mayors favored ECQ and even set terms that include the national government will provide financial assistance to their respective constituents plus millions of vaccines.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) article about the sudden ECQ announcement. Some parts in boldface…

Metro Manila will be placed under the most restrictive enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from August 6 to 20, Malacañang said on Friday.

This, after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF-EID) recommendation to impose the strict quarantine classification in Metro Manila.

In an announcement aired over state-run PTV-4, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Metro Manila will stay under general community quarantine (GCQ) “with heightened restrictions” from July 30 to August 5 and will shift to ECQ from August 6 to 20.

“Hindi po naging madali ang desisyon na ito. Maraming oras ang ginugol para pagdebatehan ang bagay na ito (It is not an easy decision. We have spent so much time to debate on the proposal [to place Metro Manila under ECQ]),” Roque said.

Metro Manila is currently under GCQ with heightened restrictions. Its quarantine status was supposed to be extended until August 15.

However, Metro Manila mayors have urged the IATF-EID to implement a two-week ECQ in the country’s metropolis to prevent the spread of the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant.

More restrictions

Roque said “additional restrictions” would be imposed in Metro Manila from July 30 to August 5.

The heightened restrictions for NCR are more stringent compared to the GCQ with heightened restrictions of other areas,” he said in a press statement.

Roque said indoor dine-in services and al fresco dining are prohibited and only take-out and delivery are allowed in Metro Manila.

“For people working in these establishments, operations are allowed to continue and finish within the day,” he said.

Personal care services like beauty salons, beauty parlors, barber shops and nail spas may operate up to 30 percent of venue or seating capacity, Roque said.

He added that indoor sports courts and venues and indoor tourist attractions and specialized markets of the Department of Tourism (DOT) may not operate, while outdoor tourist attractions, as may be defined by the DOT, will be allowed at 30 percent venue capacity.

Roque said only Authorized Persons Outside their Residences will be allowed to travel “into and out” of NCR Plus, which is composed of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.

Only virtual religious gatherings shall be allowed. Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment and funerals for those who died of causes other than Covid-19 shall be allowed, provided they are limited to immediate family members, he said.

Avoid panic buying

Following the government’s decision to implement ECQ in Metro Manila from August 6 to 20, Roque reminded the public not to resort to panic buying.

“Meron naman tayong isang linggo para mag-prepara dito sa two weeks na ECQ. Wala pong dahilan para mag panic buying dahil maski ECQ po, bukas naman po ang ating mga groceries (We still have one week to prepare for the two-week implementation of ECQ. There’s no reason for panic buying because despite the ECQ implementation, groceries are still open),” he said.

Apart from Metro Manila, Iloilo province and its city, Cagayan de Oro City, and the City of Gingoog in Misamis Oriental have also been placed under ECQ from July 21 to August 7.

On Tuesday, Roque announced that individuals residing in Iloilo province and its city, as well as the cities of Cagayan de Oro City and Gingoog, will receive cash assistance worth PHP1,000 per individual or PHP4,000 per family.

When quizzed if Metro Manila residents would also be given financial aid, Roque said: “Most likely but will seek confirmation.”

And here are related news videos to watch…

Economic damage and losses very likely

While it is understandable that ECQ is a response to the Delta variant and COVID-19 problems, it is very clear that this will result more financial losses on businesses and damage the nation’s economy which itself has been struggling to stand up and grow. Take note that the more businesses lose money, it could lead to job losses and result in lower tax collection on the part of the national government and LGUs. For insight, posted below is an excerpt from another PNA article published before the ECQ announcement. Some parts in boldface…

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez has thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for approving the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to put Metro Manila and nearby provinces under general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions.

The economy cannot bear another massive lockdown. We lose around PHP30 billion for a two-week lockdown. Many lost their jobs, livelihood, most of them are micro (and) SMEs (small and medium enterprises),” Lopez said during the Laging Handa public briefing Thursday.

He said the recommendation of placing National Capital Region (NCR) Plus under GCQ with heightened restrictions is in accordance with the IATF’s consultations with reliable health experts.

“We really take a balance, a holistic approach,” he added.

Lopez underscored that the IATF enforces restrictions amid the threats of the more infectious Covid-19 Delta variant.

But the restrictions are focused on ‘super spreader’ activities like mass gatherings, while lockdowns will remain a granular lockdown approach, the DTI chief said.

He also called on businesses to create their own health and safety committee that will ensure minimum public health protocols are being monitored and maintained in their respective establishments.

COVID-19 vaccination operations will still continue

Meanwhile, COVID-19 vaccination operations will still proceed during the ECQ period. Check out this excerpt from the GMA Network news report below…

Malacañang said the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program will proceed in Metro Manila even if the region will be under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from August 6 to 20.

Yes, definitely [it will proceed]. Details will be provided in due course of the COVID-19 vaccination committee,” Roque said.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Are you surprised about the sudden announcement of ECQ for Metro Manila? Do you believe that the Metro Manila Council (MMC) is correct that the national government should provide the financial aid and vaccines for their respective constituents?  Could it be possible that certain city governments or LGUs (local government units) of Metro Manila have ran out of funds and have no choice but to rely on the national government to provide for them?

If you are a business owner within Metro Manila, do you believe that August 6 is too early for the imposition of another ECQ? Do you think that the Metro Manila mayors spent enough time researching about the potential economic damage of the ECQ they pushed for?

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: Las Piñas City Government team formed for local implementation of safety seal certification (SSC)

Have you heard about the words safety seal certificate or safety seal certification circulating in the local news and social media lately? In connection to this ongoing COVID-19 Crisis we are all living with, businesses are being compelled to get certified that they have met the safety and health-related requirements. The safety seal certificates are supposed to ensure the public that the business establishments they intend to enter are safe for their health.

To put things in perspective, over thirty companies have applied for the safety seal certificate according to a Philippine News Agency report. In Imus, Cavite province, certain businesses their now have the certificates according to a Manila Times report.

Now here is the latest. The City Government of Las Piñas announced that it has formed a new team designed to do inspections in relation to the local implementation of the safety seal certification which local businesses in their jurisdiction should have qualified for.

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

Las Pinas City Mayor Imelda Aguilar issued an executive order creating an inspection team for the implementation of the safety seal certification.

The team created by Aguilar are composed of city administrator Reynaldo Balagulan, City Health Office head Dr. Ferdinand Eusebio, city director of Risk Reduction and Management Office Alejandro dela Merced, Public Information chief Paul San Miguel, chief legal officer Atty. Glenda Lucena, City Engineer Rosabella Bantog, Public Employment Services Office head Redante Garcia, Engineer Cesar Perillo of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, and city police chief Col. Rodel Pasator.

Aguilar ordered the team to immediately start inspecting business establishments around the city on June 11 for the issuance of the safety seal certification.

She said the inspection was in line with the joint memorandum circular issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Tourism (DOT), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to ensure that all business establishment in the city will follow minimum public health standard as imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease.

The mayor said the inspection and certification team was created to ensure that businesses around the city were following the minimum health standard to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and future surge.

Aguilar ordered the team to conduct inspections in malls, wet markets, retail stores, restaurants outside hotels or resorts, fastfood, eateries, coffee shops, car wash, laundry shops, banks, among others.

The above report ended stating that Mayor Aguilar wants the new team to regularly monitor the establishments using the checklist related to the safety seal certification. In a sense, this a new wave of regulation by the City Government on businesses and I should state that Las Piñas City has many businesses of all sizes all throughout its jurisdiction. Just drive along Alabang-Zapote Road coming from Alabang to SM Southmall and you will see so many commercial joints all the way between. And then there is the rest of Las Piñas where businesses are scattered at (examples: Marcos Alvarez Avenue, CAA Road, Tropical Avenue, BF Resort Drive, Gloria Diaz street).

To put things in perspective, the safety seal certification was emphasized in a ceremony in SM City Sucat in Parañaque City this past May which was attended by  Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya.

Businesses aside, people still need to do their part in overcoming the pandemic by getting vaccinated. To get vaccinated, registering with the local authorities goes first. Already over 100,000 Las Piñas residents of have been vaccinated.

Any Las Piñas resident who has yet to get registered for free COVID-19 vaccines can learn the ways (3 methods) by clicking here. Anyone who is ready and willing to register online can click bit.ly/LasPiñasVaccination

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: If you are a business owner in Las Piñas, have you applied for the safety seal certification program already? Does the new team formed by the City Government for inspection sound challenging to your business? Also, are all of your employees been vaccinated for COVID-19?

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: Vaccination of patients under A4 category ongoing

Vaccination for COVID-19 has entered a new stage with the inoculation of the many registered patients who are under the category of A4 (to be done in two phases). To be clear, the Department of Health (DOH) describes A4 as the category pertaining to frontline personnel in essential sectors, including uniformed personnel.

For starters, watch the GMA Network news video below…

To put things in perspective even more, posted below are selected excerpts from the Philippine News Agency’s (PNA) article. Some parts in boldface…

Excerpt 1

Some 50 workers from various sectors received their first dose of vaccine against the dreaded Covid-19 as the government kicked off the mass vaccination of the economic front-liners under the A4 priority group at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City on Monday.

Christopher Molo, a 28-year-old Angkas rider, said getting vaccinated would lessen his fear to get infected with the disease and have serious illness conditions due to the virus.

He said he decided to get vaccinated to also protect his family against the risk of transmission.

“May takot at kaba dahil bukod sa panganib ng kalsada, may takot na rin sa virus kasi may posibilidad kami na mahawa rin na mas nakakatakot (There is fear and nervousness because apart from the danger of the road, there is also fear that we might get infected with the virus — that is more worrisome),” Molo said during the symbolic vaccination attended by officials from public and private sectors.

Molo said he always keeps the health protocols in mind during his work hours. But he is more feeling safe now that he is vaccinated.

Excerpt 2

TV host Iya Villania-Arellano said she decided to get vaccinated to become safe from the risks of getting infected.

“I wanna feel safe and I wanna contribute to taking that one step towards that achieving of herd immunity. That’s why we decide to get vaccinated. I wanna be one with everyone else in being able to give way the life that we had,” Iya said.

Iya and her husband Drew Arellano were both vaccinated with Sinovac vaccines, encouraging more Filipinos to avail themselves of the Covid-19 jabs.

Don’t be choosy. Get what is available, because it is our way of being able to get back to our lives, and be able to enjoy what we used to be able to enjoy without the mask, without the face shield. Enjoy fresh air, enjoy breathing properly, and enjoy the outside world with our families, with our loved ones. So guys, come on, let’s get vaccinated,” she said.

Maurel Magyani, a service crew for eight years with Jollibee, said getting vaccinated will save her child from the danger brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I feel safe kasi nabakunahan na ako (because I already got vaccinated),” she said.

Excerpt 3

The Philippine government has decided to inoculate essential workers belonging to the A4 priority groups in areas where there is a high-risk exposure to Covid-19 infection.

The initial vaccination rollout for the A4 priority group is being carried out in the areas of Metro Manila, Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao, which are collectively called the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus 8.

The first phase of the inoculation covers employees in private companies who are working outside their homes; employees in government agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) and local government units (LGUs); and informal sector workers and those self-employed who work outside their homes, and those working in private households.

In his taped message for the event, President Rodrigo Duterte said the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines “in bulk” and the vaccination of essential workers boost the government’s efforts to beat the pandemic.

“We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel as the vaccine shipments have arrived, have started to arrive in bulk. This development is the result of our national government’s aggressive efforts to secure sufficient doses from the different manufacturers,” Duterte said.

Duterte also reminded the public to continue to adhere to the minimum public health standards.

That’s quite a load of information above. While A4 patients are being vaccinated, it does NOT mean that vaccination for patients of A1, A2 and A3 will stop. In fact, vaccination sites and their organizers are still waiting for category A1, A2 and A3 patients to come to them (note: register first) and those who missed out on their 2nd dose will still be served. Going back to the Philippine News Agency report, Senator Bong Go stated: “We should exert all efforts to continuously prioritize A1, A2, and A3 priority groups by establishing special lanes or special vaccination centers for them.”

Going back to the above excerpts, A4 is further defined as A4 workers in NCR+8 (Phase 1) and A4 workers outside NCR+8 (Phase 2). Below is an image sourced from another Philippine News Agency article.

For your reference.

Economic significance of category A4

In another Philippines News Agency article, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez stated that vaccinating patients under category A4 is key to the nation’s economic recovery. A4 covers a wide number of employees under different sectors, most notably the private sectors who work outside their homes. Check out the excerpt below…

During the ceremonial vaccination for A4 group in Pasay City Monday, Lopez thanked the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) for expanding the definition of A4 priority group to include “almost all” workers.

We are really giving support to the backbone of our economy, our workers. So this is really a shot in the arm to the economic front-liners, a shot in the arm to our economy. And this is really what we need as we are trying to continuously reopen,” Lopez said.

Following the vaccination of healthcare workers, senior citizens, and those with comorbidities, economic front-liners can now get the jab against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

The expanded list in the fourth priority group has included self-employed individuals, house helpers, and business process outsourcing workers, among others, who work outside their homes.

Lopez added that as vaccines provide protection and lower the risk of getting severe Covid-19 cases and death, the inoculation for the A4 group will boost confidence to reopen the economy.

“And with that, we will confidently reopen towards that path, and that’s the path towards recovery. And now we’re seeing such recovery, we will see more and better signs of that recovery moving forward,” the DTI chief said.

Once a whole lot of A4 patients get vaccinated, it will be great for the businesses who have been struggling hard to keep operating. It will also be great not only for the fortunate employees (still working daily) but also for the unemployed (including those who are afraid of daily travel, fearing possible COVID-19 infection). Of course, those who will got vaccinated are those who successfully registered in their respective cities or local communities. There are still a lot of people out there who have not registered for one reason or another.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Does the start of vaccination of A4 patients sound encouraging to you personally? Have you registered already? Have you been unemployed for over three months now?

In your city, has the mayor or other city government officials been posing a lot for pictures while witnessing the local vaccination processes?

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