MANILA -- Taxi Driver Renato Torrenueva said his sector has suffered even steeper losses in January this year, and he feared it could get worse if the alert level 3 in Metro Manila would be escalated.
"Nung December po medyo okay naman siya, pero saglit lang siya noong December. Itong pagtungtong ng January, wala na," Torrenueva said.
(Last December, it was a bit okay for a while. But this January, there's none)
Several business groups earlier lobbied to keep the alert level at its current position to keep the economic activities running despite the COVID-19 surge.
On Friday, the government extended Alert Level 3 in Metro Manila and select nearby provinces until Jan. 31 despite new cases exceeding 37,000 on Friday.
"Government must focus on healthcare aspects (availability of flu medicines and vitamins for home care) to avoid the overwhelming of hospitals. This would keep the alert level as is and maintain a level of economic activities," Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president George Barcelon told ABS-CBN News in a text message.
In theory, avoiding Alert Level 4 should provide businesses more breathing room, but many claim the record breaking surge in new COVID-19 cases had also scared away customers.
Vegetable vender Jeric Pavillon, for example, resorted to driving a tricycle because business has declined compared to December.
Pavillion said he used his unsold inventory to feed his family. But he agreed that there should be no rush in reopening the economy.
“Lahat naman tayo hinihingi, 'yung gusto natin bumalik sa dati, kahit anong level 'yan... Basta mag-intay na lang tayo kung kailan ang panahon na iyon, huwag tayo magmadali," Pavillon said.
(That's what we're all asking, we want to return to normal, whatever level. Let's just wait when is that time. Let's not hurry)
This is also true for former marketing associate John Paul Nalla who now works as a rider and courier for a food delivery app.
Instead of tightening mobility restrictions, Nalla said health protocols should be strictly enforced.
Aside from the PCCI, the Management Association of the Philippines, GoNegosyo and the Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Incorporated have also earlier advised against tightening restrictions in the National Capital Region.