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Business groups appeal for Alert 3

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Business groups appeal for Alert 3
Commuters prepare their face shields as they board an EDSA carousel bus at the Monumento station in Quezon City on Sept. 23, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — The business sector is appealing to the government to place Metro Manila under Alert Level 3 starting October to allow them to recover financial losses brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said representatives from the private sector made the appeal during a Monday meeting of the government task force against COVID-19, which included medical groups.

“What the private sector is asking is to place (Metro Manila) under Level 3 as we enter the fourth quarter,” Concepcion said, as business owners want to take advantage of higher consumer and election-related spending in the last quarter of the year.

On Monday, DOH epidemiology bureau director Alethea de Guzman said Metro Manila may remain under Alert Level 4 – the second highest alert level – in October despite the downward trend in COVID-19 infections due to lower testing output by laboratories.

Concepcion recommended to National Task Force against COVID-19 chief
 implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. to allow higher indoor capacity for the vaccinated individuals.

He also reiterated that his proposed “bakuna (vaccine) bubble” is not discriminatory, as it aims to encourage more Filipinos to get vaccinated against the disease.

Shorter quarantine

Business group Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) is backing proposals to shorten the quarantine period of fully vaccinated travelers from the current 10 days to five to help revive the tourism industry.

“More countries in the world are nowadays easing travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers, such as the US which plans to ease foreign travel restrictions beginning in November. Foreign nationals flying into the US will have to be fully vaccinated and test negative for COVID-19 within three days of their flight. Let us support proposals to grant fully vaccinated balikbayan visitors and international tourists similar convenience, by reducing arriving international passenger quarantine period to five days,” FFCCCII president Henry Lim Bon Liong said.

Philippine Airlines proposed that international flight passengers be tested 72 hours before departure, quarantined upon arrival and tested with reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test on the third day.

Endgame

The OCTA Research Group is optimistic that the Delta-driven surge in COVID cases is nearing its “endgame” and the country can have a better Christmas this year.

“I share the optimism that we might be in for a good ending to the year, a good Christmas. We might be seeing the endgame for the Delta variant… not yet right now, but it’s already unfolding,” OCTA fellow Guido David said on ‘The Chiefs’ on One News on Monday night.

“(But) we need to have compliance with health protocols for this theory to work… We’re not there yet, but we’re going to get there probably by October. I think by November, we should really be OK. I’m banking on that unless there is a new variant,” he added.

David said the reproduction number in Metro Manila is at .94 as of Monday while the seven-day average further fell to 4,083 daily cases.

However, the intensive care unit utilization (ICU) rate and average daily new cases per 100,000 population remained high. – Louella Desiderio, Janvic Mateo

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