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Thursday, June 24, 2021
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Impact of NCR + bubble likely minimal in Cebu

BUSINESS AS USUAL. Workers wearing face masks scale bars at a construction site in Metro Manila amid the more stringent mobility restrictions in the National Capital Region and four provinces on March 22, 2021. (AP)

THE economic impact of the two-week Covid-19 “bubble” in the National Capital Region and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal (NCR+) will likely spill over to Cebu, but it should be minimal, a business leader said Monday, March 22, 2021.

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Steven Yu said the business community in Cebu will feel the effects.

“The slowdown in business activity in hard general community quarantine areas will definitely spill over to Cebu but hopefully, it will be minimal if the lockdown gets lifted in two weeks,” he said.



Felix Taguiam, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, said the mobility restrictions in the NCR+ area will impact domestic tourism arrivals in Cebu.

He said, however, that if logistics is not hampered and factories remain open, there should be close to zero impact overall on the local economy.

“Our authorities here are very careful about that since we are seeing the lowering of the curve and soon more people will be vaccinated. Let’s keep it up because that’s the only way we can open up more of the economy,” Taguiam said.

Tourism

The Cebu Provincial Government has been hoping to draw more domestic tourists, especially during the Holy Week, and boost the local industry by dropping the requirement for a negative swab test result.

The capital region and the four neighboring provinces, however, were placed under a “bubble” in a bid to slow down transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Only authorized persons outside residence (Apor) are allowed to fly in and out of Metro Manila from March 22 to April 4, 2021.

In an advisory on Monday, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) reminded airlines to ensure that their passengers are traveling to NCR+ for essential purposes.

Considered as Apor are essential workers, health and emergency frontliners, government officials and frontliners, authorized humanitarian assistance actors, persons traveling for medical or humanitarian reasons, outbound international travelers, returning overseas Filipinos and overseas Filipino workers.

The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), which earlier pushed for the further reopening of the economy, has expressed support for the localized quarantine measures and additional restrictions in areas with high Covid-19 transmission rates.

Saving lives

In a statement, Neda reiterated its objection to a blanket community quarantine, saying the issue is not simply about the economy versus health, but about saving lives from Covid-19 and hunger as well.

“We recognize the risks associated with the recent spike in Covid-19 cases, but reverting back to a stricter and blanket community quarantine is no longer an option knowing how much it has cost the Filipino people in the past year,” acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and Neda Director General Karl Kendrick Chua said.

“That is why a careful and calibrated approach is needed to address the sources of highest risks through localized quarantines and additional restrictions, so that jobs or livelihoods will not be affected,” he added.

Chua again stressed that the relaxation of quarantine restrictions from April to October 2020, while strictly enforcing health standards, helped restore six million jobs and allowed more Filipinos to feed their families.

The country has been in varying levels of quarantine over the past year. As a result, an estimated 16.4 million people have experienced hunger nationwide, Chua said.

In NCR alone, 3.2 million individuals or one in four people are hungry. There are also 506,000 jobless people.

“We need to consider that strict quarantines previously imposed entailed huge income losses and hardships, especially among the poor. The IATF Resolution No. 104 allows key businesses and services to operate, instead of imposing a blanket and prolonged community quarantine which could cost some P2.1 billion in wages daily,” Chua said. (JOB, SunStar Philippines)


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