DTI to push for staggered work hours to curb coronavirus spread

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 19 2020 03:31 PM

Commuters take the Light Rail Transit (LRT) in Manila on Sept. 14, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - The Department of Trade and Industry said Monday it would urge firms to implement staggered working hours to decongest public vehicles and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, as authorities sought to boost the pandemic-battered economy. 

About 95 percent of business sectors have been allowed to reopen, said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez. 

He said his agency would issue a memorandum circular "maybe today or tomorrow" urging companies "to apply staggered shifts." 

"Ibig sabihin, iyong iba-ibang oras ng office hours para ma-spread natin iyong dami ng mga bumibiyahe at nangangailangan ng transportation papunta sa mga opisina o places of work," he said in a Laging Handa public briefing.

(This means varying office hours so that we can spread the volume of travelers and those who need transportation going to their office or places of work.)

The Philippine economy was one of Asia's fastest-growing prior to the pandemic that resulted in recession and millions of jobless Filipinos. The World Bank forecasts the Philippine economy to contract by 6.9 percent this year, the biggest decline since the 1980s and worse than the government's projected 5.5 percent fall.

Authorities recently allowed mall sales, eased age restrictions, and shortened curfew hours to boost the economy. 

The health department on Sunday reported 2,379 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 50 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 356,618 cases and 6,652 deaths. It also said 14,941 more individuals had recovered from COVID-19, bringing total recoveries to 310,158. 

- With a report from Reuters