Business owners talk ‘safe spaces’ for herd immunity

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
Business owners talk âsafe spacesâ for herd immunity
Business owners meet on Zoom with presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Mall and building owners have expressed support for the proposed establishment of “safe spaces” as a means to create herd immunity in areas where the private sector has control like office buildings, factories and malls, according to presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion.

The business owners voiced their position at a meeting with Concepcion.

Having “safe spaces” means around 80 percent of people occupying or working at establishments are vaccinated. Such establishments may go back to full operational capacity from the current 50 percent.

Present at the meeting were Filinvest Land Inc. president and CEO Josephine Yap, SM Prime executive committee chairman Hans Sy, Ayala Property Management Corp. chairman Bobby Dy, Alliance Global Inc. CEO Kevin Tan, Robinsons Land Corp. president and CEO Frederick Go.

“We would like to propose to the government to allow us to implement safe spaces with an increased workforce capacity as soon as we reach 80 percent vaccination or herd immunity in our respective buildings,” Concepcion said.

“Creating safe spaces will allow us to stop transmission, the spread of new variants and even indirectly provide immunity to the unvaccinated. We want to send a clear message that workspaces are ‘safe spaces,’” he added.

“We are also currently working on a roadmap that will set the milestones for our economic recovery, that’s why we are discussing ideas such as safe spaces, among other ideas, as we would integrate this into our roadmap which will give the picture of how our economy could move as we achieve population protection then herd immunity,” Concepcion pointed out.

He maintained that the scheme he is proposing, if adopted, would greatly help kick-start the economy, especially now that the country is highly expectant of fully recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are still under the consultation stage and safe spaces is just one of the ideas being floated around as we expect to achieve population protection by September/October in NCR Plus,” he explained.

“We are looking at safe spaces as a private sector initiative that could be adopted at the discretion of the owners of the establishments – buildings, malls, factories, etc.”

Expecting greater transportation needs as establishments start to adopt safe spaces, Dy of Ayala Property Management suggested that the current limitation on public transportation be eased, in anticipation of the influx of people that safe spaces may attract.

Mall owners are proactively allowing their establishments to be used as vaccine centers, partnering with various LGUs and advocacy groups like Go Negosyo. Echoing that mall owners are part of this initiative, Hans Sy said, “This is our part in trying to help our country with the pandemic and the current need for more vaccination facilities.”

Ninety percent of SM employees are already vaccinated.

In opening certain entertainment areas like movie theaters, Frederick Go says that it could be considered later on, maybe when herd immunity is reached.

On allowing minors to go outside and enter malls, stakeholders said vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez is reserving Pfizer doses should the country start inoculating them.

“Considering always that the Delta variant is a threat, we must take the vaccine as this is the only way we can defeat Delta. We need to secure our victory against Delta because it is only through this that we can attain population protection by September/October in NCR Plus, then herd immunity before the year ends,” Concepcion said.

“We need to reach certain milestones so we can operationalize our roadmap which would start our economic revival, save our MSMEs and enable us to have a Merry Christmas this year and start a great new year in 2022,” he added.


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