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Cebu businesses’ closures alarm chamber

Rico Osmeña



The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) on Wednesday raised concerns on Cebu City’s local economy as 92 of the group’s member-companies expressed possible closure of their businesses as an effect of the successive quarantines placed in the city at the height of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a meeting with Environment Secretary and Cebu Task Force on COVID-19 overseer Roy Cimatu and several other business leaders, CCCI President Felix Taguiam relayed the concerns of the group, which is the largest business federation in the city and the Province of Cebu.

“Most of the business owners in the city are traders. The chamber has 391 members, and right now I already received 92 requests for closure,” Taguiam revealed.

The dialogue was called to provide the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) and business owners the opportunity to share best practices and recommendations on how the city can best move forward in anticipation of a transition to a more relaxed community quarantine.

Cimatu, however, expressed optimism that the city will be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) by the end of the month, which should somewhat temper the bleak outlook.

“We are making progress now because of contact-tracing. I am expecting that cases in Cebu City will go down by next week. So, hopefully by the end of the month, we’ll go down to GCQ,” Cimatu vowed.

He added that the IATF and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 are implementing all possible measures to address the health situation in the city and help it breathe life into its economy.

Meanwhile, Melquiades Feliciano, who is assisting Cimatu in the battle against COVID-19 in Cebu, disclosed that the Cebu Task Force is evaluating and reviewing the mass rapid testing initiative called “Project Balik Buhay (PBB).”

A joint initiative of Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino with the Department of Health-Region 7, local government units in Cebu and the private sector, the PBB aims to gradually reopen the community through a calibrated, scientific and evidence-based transition from ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) to GCQ.

“We will meet with the business sector to explore how the IATF can integrate this program into our policy direction, so that the needs of the communities, especially the workers whose jobs were greatly affected by the pandemic, can be addressed,” Feliciano said.