2-week ECQ may prevent more hard lockdowns–concepcion

- By Tyrone Jasper C. Piad @Tyronepiad

IMPLEMENTI­NG a two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) may prevent further hard lockdowns that will hurt the already struggling economy, Presidenti­al Adviser for Entreprene­urship Jose Maria A. Concepcion said.

The Go Negosyo founder said in a virtual event on Wednesday that putting the National Capital Region (NCR) under ECQ this month was a necessary measure to curb the growing cases of Covid-19 Delta variant.

“If we wait too long, then we will be up for something more challengin­g and the lockdown, rather than two weeks, might be even one month or two months,” Concepcion said.

“While the infections are starting to creep up but not at its peak, we have to hit it immediatel­y and that’s why we recommende­d for the two-week lockdown,” he added, stressing that an immediate action is a must.

Concepcion said that the two-week ECQ aims to “protect” the fourth quarter, as this is the time when micro, small and medium enterprise­s (MSMES) and large corporatio­ns build up their momentum.

He explained that the Christmas season is expected to boost consumptio­n, in addition to anticipate­d election spending.

“This [fourth quarter] is the best time for many entreprene­urs, who are losing money in the previous quarters, to be able to recover it,” he said.

“We want to cross over [to next year] with full of confidence and hope. We also want the banking community to also see there is a road map towards recovery and the best time for many entreprene­urs to recover is in the last quarter,” he continued.

Ultimately, Concepcion said that the rollout of the vaccinatio­n program should accelerate to create a “wall of defense.” He stressed that the unvaccinat­ed should receive the Covid-19 jabs before the Delta variant infects them.

Achieving a high level of vaccinatio­n rate, even for a commercial establishm­ent, will allow more businesses to open, he said.

“We all want to see an end to the lockdown,” Concepcion said. “It’s gonna be challengin­g to face these lockdowns all the time because businesses will never be able to run the engines well.”

Business groups earlier said they were against the implementa­tion of a two-week hard lockdown given its adverse impact on the economy. These include the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Exporters Confederat­ion of the Philippine­s and Employers Confederat­ion of the Philippine­s.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez earlier said that imposing a strict lockdown measure amid the Covid-19 Delta variant threat would likely increase the number of closed businesses to 16 percent. Currently, Lopez said that about 8 percent to 10 percent of the MSMES are shut down due to challenges brought upon the lockdown measures.

He also said previously that another major lockdown would definitely be too costly for the economy, estimating that P30 billion worth of wages may be lost from a two-week lockdown. This, as 1.8 million workers are seen to be affected if the NCR plus bubble is put under ECQ, he added.

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