Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said that 600,000 workers were able to return to work since the new quarantine system was piloted in the National Capital Region (NCR) last month even as aired support for shortened quarantine period for investors and air travelers to ensure continuity of economic activities despite the pandemic.

At the Virtual Laging Hand public briefing, Lopez said the number of workers now back to work is three times the original projection of 200,000 when the guidelines under Alert Level 4 in NCR were relaxed.

Even as NCR remained under Alert Level 4, restaurants and food establishments are already allowed to operate at limited capacity for both dine in and al-fresco.

Likewise, personal care services like barbers/salons and nail care were also allowed to operate at limited capacity. Gyms and fitness centers are also allowed at limited operating capacity.

The DTI is also seeking reconsideration by the Interagency Task Force on the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF) to allow other personal care services like therapeutic massages to reopen even under Alert Level 4.

Lopez raised this as IATF is expected to decide whether or not to expand the alert level system with granular lockdowns in areas outside Metro Manila. The Alert level 4 for Metro Manila is good until October 15.

Also being studied, he said, is the operation of cinemas and game arcades which might be considered for reopening under Alert Level 3.

In batting for further reopening of the domestic economy, Lopez cited the huge employment in this sector, eager to return to work.

“It’s a general review that if it we will help in job generation, we should reopen further,” he said stressing that the essence of such reopening safely is to allow continuity in business even at lower operating capacity based on the alert level system.

He stressed that further reopening even at limited scale will ensure continuing employment and economic activities. Based on statistics, he said, the economy has yet to return to the pre-pandemic levels especially in terms of employment and economic output.

On the proposed shortened quarantine period for travelers, Lopez said this would greatly ease operations at quarantine facilities. Affected travelers and government will no longer spend for quarantine purposes.

“More importantly, investors who are eager to come to the Philippines are being discouraged by 10-14 day quarantine period. In a way, this will affect our recovery,” he said. He proposed for a shorter 5 to 7 day-quarantine period only.

The long quarantine period has also turned off returning officials of foreign companies already operating y in the country.

If the long quarantine period is shortened, he said, many investors, especially those still exploring for opportunities in the country, are expected to pursue their investment plans.

Source: Manila Bulletin (