The Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines expressed renewed optimism on Friday as the government released guidelines allowing some industries to return to full operation in certain areas in the country.
Nobuo Fujii, the group's vice president, said the new government policy is viewed as a positive development, but he cautioned that certain challenges remain which could prevent Japanese businesses from operating at full capacity.
"It's good news... But the transportation matter is the problem," Fujii told Kyodo News, citing public transportation as a deterrent in restoring business activities and transactions to a level seen before the pandemic.
In Metro Manila, public transportation such as in-city buses and railway trains was forced to cut a significant number of passengers per trip, owing to minimum health standards requiring commuters to maintain an acceptable level of physical distancing.
Public routes for jeepneys, another popular and affordable mode of public transportation, have also yet to be restored to pre-pandemic levels as transportation authorities opted for a gradual easing of restrictions.
Despite the challenge, Fujii is hopeful that the chamber's more than 650 Japanese member companies could recoup some of the losses this year or the next with the new government policy.
Earlier Friday, the Trade Department released a memorandum circular allowing certain sectors to restore operations to full capacity in areas classified under a "General Community Quarantine" status, such as Metro Manila.
These sectors include mining, legal and accounting services, management and consultancy services, non-leisure wholesale and retail trade, as well as the film, music and TV production industries, to name a few.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said earlier this week that the urban capital region might also shift to a less restrictive quarantine status next month if the growth rate of COVID-19 cases goes down.
As of Friday, the Health Department had recorded 316,678 cases of infection, the highest in Southeast Asia, as well as 5,616 deaths, the second highest in the region after Indonesia, resulting from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.