THE most unnecessary thing a government leader can do is telling the public that we need to open the economy and gush forth a Covid denier sound bite in the same breath. The virus and its mutations exist and have caused over 10,000 deaths in the country. That reality glares as a twin to the fact that the economy staggers heavily. Essentially, the healthier message should be that we reanimate economic activity safely—going about the business with health precaution. No more, no less, sans the political clowning around.
With the first trickle of vaccines pouring into our shores, government had started the jab rollout, guided by a priority list that reasonably puts our health care frontliners first. A visual illustration of the stage we are in comes as an overlapping of circles—a moving economy, a persistent pandemic, and the vaccines. A more enlightened leader in this pandemic knows how crucial it is to juggle these intersections with appropriate science.
The crippling duration of the lockdown had worn out a good deal of the businesses’ “low-lying fruits” at this stage of the gradual reopening. Many had been wounded to the core and Philippine business had already cut some 10.9 millions jobs in the first few months of the pandemic, but just how much of these lost jobs can be recovered as we reopen? Small businesses, which account for over 80 percent of the registered businesses in the country, have closed shop.
The pandemic time contingencies that larger corporations have employed showed it might be wiser to keep the workforce at a functioning minimum for now, and thus one can only imagine the great deal of permanent job losses at this period even as we try to breathe life into the economy.
Meanwhile, as we continue to fight the pandemic after a stint of flattening the curve late last year, we have gained enough strides to expand our health care system, and that is why we hear our crisis managers saying that the recent surges are within manageable level. Yes, but still, uptrends could easily burn like wildfire if managed poorly.
With those in mind, we hope we don’t trip in the balancing act. That is why we don’t need all the grand narratives that downplay the virus and muddle the better message that the vaccine is still the best ticket to that rather cheerful planet we call economic recovery.