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Economy opens up slowly, surely

Elmer Navarro Manuel

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Concerned agencies on Monday announced it is urging businesses to create multiple and staggered work shifts in a bid to reopen the economy safely as curfew hours eased in Metro Manila.

In a statement, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said that the move will spread the volume of people reporting for work on a given day and enable easier compliance to physical distancing.

Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III, on the other hand, said that it will bring back more jobs in a safe manner, and the easing of curfews will generate additional economic activities in the evening that will improve the income of workers.

To recall, the DTI and DoLE — including the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) — issued the pronouncement in a joint advisory dated 22 October, which also encouraged alternative work arrangements and work-from-home set-ups.

The Trade chief, meantime, noted that more sectors were also allowed to operate within half to full capacity while mall-wide sales were allowed and restrictions on cooler temperatures, free WiFi and longer operating hours were also eased.

The public is urged to strictly follow minimum health standards such as the proper wearing of masks and face shields, no talking and eating in public transportation and crowded areas and observing physical distancing.

Establishments are told to provide adequate ventilation, disinfect frequently, and isolate symptomatic or COVID-19 cases.

“The transmission of the virus will definitely slow down even if we open more of the economy. Thus, this will allow more people to go back to work and generate more income, and bring back our strong momentum in reducing poverty and malnutrition,” Lopez said.

Earlier, the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) said Tuesday its members would follow minimum health protocols and strictly enforce physical distancing during mall-wide sales.

Government last week allowed sales in malls ahead of the holidays even as the country continued to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re timing this. We’ve been allowed to hold mall-wide sales, we want to ensure the safety of our shoppers and we are coordinating with government agencies and local government units (LGU),” PRA president Rosemarie Ong said in a previous statement.

“It will not be like during pre-COVID times with big crowds. We will impose discipline with the help of government agencies and LGU,” she added.

Customers will be required to wear masks and face shields and follow crowd control measures, Ong said.

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