Friday, September 24, 2021

Presidential adviser favors early lockdown amid delta threat; business chamber opposes it

Joey Concepcion (File photo)

PRESIDENTIAL adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion has expressed his support for an early lockdown to protect the fourth quarter of the year from the delta variant threat.

Concepcion described the fourth quarter as a “sacred quarter” where consumer spending is at its peak because of the Christmas season and the election fever.

“The objective is to ensure that we have a safe and economically robust fourth quarter. As we all know, as entrepreneurs, we know that the fourth quarter is the sacred quarter for us because this is where many micro, small and medium enterprises, large corporations and even extra large corporations really do very well,” he said, during the Cebu Business Month Entrepreneur’s Summit held Wednesday, July 28, 2021.

“Now we have to protect that at all costs and whatever happens in the last quarter is what you will see for the year 2022,” he added.

According to Concepcion, a strong finish for the last quarter will lead to a better 2022, especially for the first quarter moving forward.

He said the decision whether to lock down or not comes at a very crucial moment as he was advised by experts like Dr. Edsel Salvana and Dr. Tony Leachon as well as the OCTA Research.

“I’ve been advised that the private sector should lock down while it’s still early. That the variant is really moving up very fast. And if we lock down too late, then we have to lock down longer and this could affect our fourth quarter,” he said.

Concepcion said they have recommended and proposed to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III that the private sector is going to support the two-week lockdown in the National Capital Region (NCR) plus.

“That may be brought forward pretty soon and the choice is, ‘Do we lock down on the fourth quarter or do we lock down on the third quarter?”he said.

“We will not need another lockdown in the fourth quarter if we successfully do this one. The sooner we do it and the more effective the lockdown is, then it will suppress the transmission and maybe do a pause that would push it lower,” he added.

Not endorsing

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, July 28, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), in a statement said it is not endorsing the declaration of another lockdown at this time.

“One of our leaders was misquoted and was explaining that we need to wait and see if the health care sector can cope with the recent surge of cases and not be overwhelmed if the rise in cases continues,” PCCI acting president Edgardo Lacson explained, correcting an earlier report that one of the chamber’s key leaders is endorsing a lockdown.

“Even medical doctors are divided on the delta variant that although it is highly contagious, it is not fatal,” Lacson said.

Lacson further said that a knee-jerk reaction to declare a lockdown again – a declaration of enhanced community quarantine status in the NCR for example – will be disastrous to the economy which is already reeling from losses arising from months of lockdowns.

“Such a decision will cause the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs again, not to mention business losses of enterprises, which our citizens can ill afford,” Lacson added.

PCCI leaders said the government should focus instead on accelerating vaccination of the population, especially that millions of vaccine doses have recently arrived in the country.

PCCI further recommended incentivizing people who have been fully vaccinated such as being allowed to travel across provincial borders or allowed to enter malls and restaurants freely.

“The idea is to open the economy and allow greater mobility of people while taking stock of the basic health protocols to observe. The virus will be with us for months, maybe years, and we have no choice but to live with it. This is how other countries have fought the virus. Lockdowns will cause even greater hardships for our people,” Lacson said. (With KOC)


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