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Private firms back lockdown extension

Fear of a relapse that may come at a greater cost
/ 04:03 AM April 07, 2020

The Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship is now supporting the proposal for a two-week extension of the lockdown in Luzon, a change of heart prompted by the fear of a relapse that might come at a greater cost.

Presidential Adviser Jose Maria Concepcion III had earlier pushed to let the quarantine end as scheduled and be replaced instead by a barangay-level lockdown.

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He made this proposal to the government in late March, after a meeting with business leaders that included some tycoons.

On Monday, however, Concepcion said that there should now be a two-week extension of the quarantine, which would give time for the government to craft how a barangay-level lockdown would work.

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He said that this was being supported by majority of medium and big businesses, citing an informal survey among his contacts. In a phone interview with the Inquirer, he said he surveyed about 200 business leaders.

“The majority want to avoid a possible relapse and ensure a definitive flattening of the curve,” he said in a separate statement.

“Despite the negative economic impact, it seems that we are left with no choice but to ensure that this current lockdown be worthwhile and successful,” he said.

“Thus, we strongly support the government in its plans of extending the Luzon lockdown for another two weeks to avoid relapse, which may result in more damages,” he added.

After the extension, he recommended a shift to a more localized lockdown, noting that mayors and barangay captains should be empowered to implement a lockdown in their affected areas, subject to the national government’s guidelines.

Depending on the number and location of the confirmed cases per area, he said the barangay quarantine could be expanded to become a City/Municipality Quarantine, and even a Provincial Quarantine should a wider-scale lockdown be necessary.

The government, however, needs to address problems encountered by many businesses due to the lockdown rules promulgated by local government units.

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As the rules of the national government are not always reflected on the ground, businesses suffer. An example are the checkpoints put up by local governments. Some factory workers could not get past those checkpoints even though the workers were technically exempted under the quarantine guidelines. INQ

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TAGS: Business, coronavirus Philippines, lockdown
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