With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila, where the transmission rate has exceeded the average countrywide rate of COVID-19 infections, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion said that it is time for both the government and the private sector to consider implementing stronger measures in the National Capital Region (NCR) to effectively mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the region.
â€œWe are pushing for establishments in NCR, such as malls, restaurants, and others, to allow only fully vaccinated individuals so we can create safer bubbles. For example, dining areas with fully vaccinated restaurant crew serving fully vaccinated dine-in customers. This is of course upon having enough fully vaccinated residents in a certain city in Metro Manila,â€ Concepcion said.
He cited data from the Philippine General Hospital which found 187 individuals out of the total of 265 COVID-19 patients admitted as of August 15 were unvaccinated. The San Lazaro Hospital, meanwhile, reported that 82 percent of the total severe and critical cases of COVID-19 were also unvaccinated individuals.
â€œImplementing stronger measures during the ECQ in NCR, even if it is extended, will preserve the benefits of the lockdown. It will prevent us from compromising what we have already achieved so far, and what we can achieve in the future. Weâ€™ll finally reap the benefits of our sacrifices,â€ he said.
Concepcion added that the Philippines must benchmark against similar measures in other countries. In Jakarta, malls reopened at 25 percent capacity, but only to fully vaccinated individuals. Singapore, which has vaccinated 75 percent of its population, is allowing the fully vaccinated to resume activities that require the removal of masks and even gather in groups of no more than five people.
â€œWe have seen in France under President Macronâ€™s leadership that restricting the mobility of unvaccinated individuals is not only effective in preventing the spread of the virus, but also in encouraging people to get vaccinated,â€ he said.
Concepcion said that limiting the mobility of unvaccinated individuals, especially in Metro Manila, is not impossible given the aggressive inoculation rollouts already in effect during the ECQ.
â€œIt will not be imposed unreasonably. Thatâ€™s why there is a milestone in terms of the percentage of vaccinated individuals. We are aware that we need to vaccinate more people before we drastically do this. That is why we are aggressively rolling out our vaccination program in the country especially here in NCR even during the current lockdown,â€ Concepcion said.
â€œIn the end, these measures will also encourage people to do their civic duty and take the vaccines. There may be more variants to come, but we have to realize that vaccination is the only key. The private sector wants to see an end to these lockdowns. A â€˜close open’ type of economy is something we cannot afford to have.â€