Biz sector says prudent to keep NCR under Alert Level 2 amid omicron threat: Duterte adviser

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 03 2021 02:28 PM

MANILA— The Philippine business sector feels that retaining Metro Manila under COVID-19 Alert Level 2 is the "most prudent" option amid the threat of a new COVID-19 variant, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said Friday.

While businesses are trying to recoup losses due to pandemic-wrought closures, the sector is also "after the safe opening of the economy," Concepcion, founder of GoNegosyo, said in an online forum.

"When consulting with business sector members, they feel that Alert Level 2 would be the most prudent at this point in time," he said.

Under the Department of Health's (DOH) guidelines, people in areas under COVID-19 Alert Level 2 would be allowed to:

  • hold events, meetings and gatherings in select venues
  • open tourist attractions such as amusement parks, museums, galleries, exhibits, parks, plazas, public gardens, scenic viewpoints
  • open cinemas and movie houses with limited capacity
  • hold limited face-to-face or in-person classes subject to prior approval of the Office of the President

Once an area is placed under COVID-19 Alert Level 3, most recreational activities will have to be suspended, while venues that will be allowed to operate will have to limit capacity to between 30 and 50 percent.

"When the Omicron threat is well determined... then we can take a more aggressive stand," he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier described the variant as “very high” risk, saying it could dodge immune defenses and spread faster than earlier strains.

Several local government units are considering re-imposing "reasonable regulations, especially on the entry of people to their territories" to ensure that the new strain, first detected in South Africa, would not spread in communities, said Marinduque Gov. Presbitero Velasco, head of the League of Provinces of the Philippines.

Local experts, however, said that they need to further study the new COVID-19 variant, including its capacity to override existing vaccines, as there are still only 200 people infected with the strain worldwide.

The challenge for the government is to sustain the current alert level in the capital region, said Concepcion, noting that "many businesses and business owners are quite happy now."

"Many entrepreneurs are still doing well especially with higher capacities right now, more consumers going out, consumer spending is picking up, election spending is there," he said.

"That is the challenge: sustaining this. That is more important than achieving Alert Level 1," he said.

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