MANILA — Metro Manila has "a likelihood" of being placed under the loosest of the 4 quarantine levels if it can sustain the decrease in its active novel coronavirus infections through the Christmas and New Year holiday, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Wednesday.
The regions' s 12 million people until Dec. 31 are under general community quarantine, where not all businesses are allowed to operate at full capacity. There will be "more openness" to downgrade this lockdown if the COVID-19 statistics is managed, Lopez said.
"We’re hoping, with the continuing good numbers of Metro Manila and other nearby areas, we’re hoping that the numbers continue even during the December-Christmas season, so that by January, there’s a likelihood that we can be a modified GCQ," he said in an online press briefing.
"I’m not saying na definite iyon. There’s a likelihood. It will be data-based, pag-aaralan ulit ‘yung situation," he added.
(The situation will be studied again.)
If Metro Manila, which accounts for about a third of the country's gross domestic product, stays under GCQ after New Year, more age groups might be allowed to go outside their homes, Lopez said.
This will be a "big boost", especially to the retail industry, he said.
Those aged below 15 are still not allowed to go out, except for certain conditions, based on the latest guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
"These are consumers as well na hindi nakakalabas (who cannot go out), or if not, they are encouraging more consumption spending," Lopez said.
"I think, there will be more openness after Christmas or starting January—whether sectors or whether community quarantine," said the official, who, incidentally, contracted COVID-19 but is currently asymptomatic and is currently in full isolation.
The Philippines, so far, has recorded 444,164 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Wednesday, of which, 26,545 are active.
From the Dec. 8 cumulative total of 442,785 cases, 201,276 are from Metro Manila. The region also topped the list in terms of recording new cases in the last two weeks.