NEDA OK with Alert Level 1 plans, but bats for ‘safe reopening’

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 12 2022 03:36 PM

Customers visit a mall in Pasay City on January 31, 2022, as establishments prepare for the downgrading of the COVID-19 pandemic status to Alert Level 2. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Customers visit a mall in Pasay City on January 31, 2022, as establishments prepare for the downgrading of the COVID-19 pandemic status to Alert Level 2. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said Saturday it supports the deescalation of Metro Manila to Alert Level 1, only if the pandemic situation eased.

In a public briefing, NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said while authorities want the easing of lockdown restrictions in the capital region, home to some 13 million people and the country's main economic hub, indicators should be positive. 

Should it happen, this is the first time that the Alert Level 1 will be imposed under the new set of COVID-19 alert schemes implemented last September. 

"Siyempre kung kami ang tatanungin talagang kailangan. Mas gusto namin talaga na buksan pero ang gusto namin ay ang safe reopening, kasi kung halimbawa magbubukas ka nga tapos biglang magkaka-surge, mahirap ’yun, magiging unpredictable para sa mga negosyo," Edillon said.

"Yes, we want deescalation of the alert levels but only if it is safe to do so. Ang tingin namin dito, inoobserbahan talaga namin, kasi nagbaba tayo ng alert level so ibig sabihin dadagdag ’yung mobility."

During the same briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said government is preparing to remove all restrictions in establishments and public transport in areas under Alert Level 1. 

This, as the country attempts to live with the virus threat under the "new normal." 

But Edillon said health protocols should still be in place, and that developments should be monitored every 2 weeks.

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A good indicator, she said, is the high number of vaccination rate in Metro Manila, which could help hospitals from being burdened with critical to severe COVID-19 patients. 

"Ang dapat talaga dito, even as we open, ’yung mga kababayan namin, lahat ng lalabas must strictly observe ’yung health protocols para hindi tayo ’yung urong-sulong . . . kasi hindi rin maganda ’yung ganoong volatility," Edillon said. 

'READY'

A group of restaurants, Resto PH, meanwhile, said its members prepared to implement the new set of guidelines should Metro Manila deescalate to Alert Level 1. 

Resto PH president Eric Teng said in an interview on Teleradyo that their staff are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and they are confident that the omicron situation will continue to ease. 

"Sa tingin po namin readyng ready na kam kasi kami ang sector na required fully vaccinated ang staff namin and we've been serving vaccinated customers for months now," Teng said. 

While restaurants are allowed at 50 percent indoor capacity and 70 percent in an al-fresco setting, Teng said businesses were not really able to capitalize on such a concession.

"In reality, hindi naman namin nae-enjoy ang 80 percent dahil sa social distancing rules," Teng said over Teleradyo. 

"Now we're hoping na pagdating ng Alert Level 1, we're hoping that the distancing requirement will also be relaxed like sa transport na hidni naman na po 1 meter ang distancing."

The Philippines confirmed 3,788 new cases on Friday. 

This is less than 5,000 fresh infections for the 4th straight day, the ABS-CBN Data Analytics team said. — With a report from Angela Coloma, ABS-CBN News