Trade chief backs Palace position on quarantine age restriction
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez dropped an earlier recommendation to allow children to go out with their parents to help stimulate economic activity during the pandemic, after a recent resolution that eased age restrictions in certain areas got thumbed down by President Duterte last Monday.
Just last week, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases passed a resolution allowing people aged between 10 and 65 to step out of their homes in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ). The resolution, which eased the minimum age earlier set at 15 years old, was supposed to take effect on Feb. 1.
The idea was first raised by Socioeconomic Secretary Karl Chua, who argued that families needed to be allowed to go out because they accounted for the bulk of “nonessential spending.” Lopez backed this on Jan.15 during the government’s Laging Handa briefing, when he was asked by fellow Cabinet Secretary Martin Andanar for his position on the issue. Lopez then suggested to lower the minimum age to 10 years old.
Mr. Duterte, however, withdrew the decision in a prerecorded speech on Monday night, saying this was out of precaution since he was worried that the new variant of COVID-19 might infect children. Mountain province, where several cases of the UK variant were detected, is under MGCQ.
“We heard the decision of the President last night to revert from 10 years old to 15 years old the minimum age restriction. So it [is] back to status quo,” Lopez said in a Viber message to reporters on Tuesday morning.
“Of course, we follow the wisdom of our President,” he added.
Lopez said Duterte had asked them to study the new variant further “because it might spread and the blame might be put on the easing of age restriction.”
“It is better to observe further the new variant and it will be safer to adjust once we are able to control the spread of this variant,” he said.
Lopez has been pushing for the further opening of the economy. INQ
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