THE government has issued an advisory appealing to local leaders to reduce their curfew hours and to business owners to distribute their work shifts, as the country shifts its Covid-19 policy to managing risks instead of avoiding them to reopen the economy.
In Joint Advisory 20-01 dated October 22, the national government called on localities to relax their curfew as part of efforts to reopen the economy. Business establishments one by one are getting the state’s approval to resume operations in spite of the virus threat.
The joint advisory, issued by the Departments of Trade and Industry, of Labor and Employment, and of the Interior and Local Government, suggested cutting the curfew hours to between 12 in the midnight and 4 in the morning, from 10 in the evening to 5 in the morning.
Likewise, the advisory called on managements to adopt multiple and staggered work shifts to allow workers to travel to work in batches. The government said this should maintain physical distancing in public transport units, as well as spread out the traffic in roads.
Under the advisory, business establishments are advised to adopt work shifts starting 7 in the morning, then 8, then 9, and so on and so forth.
In a statement on Sunday, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III explained the easing of curfew will generate economic activities in the evening to the benefit of workers taking the night shift. As for the call to scatter work shifts, he said this will bring back people to their workplaces with the risk of contracting the virus reduced.
Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año, for his part, said the government is now moving to revive the economy, while securing the safety of the people.
Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez reminded firms and workers to comply with minimum health standards enforced by authorities. These protocols include wearing face mask and face shield and staying 1 meter apart when in public places.
“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.
Most industries, except those in the entertainment sector, are now permitted to resume their operations in areas under general community quarantine. Firms offering professional services, including legal and accountancy, architecture and engineering, and management consultancy, may now operate at full capacity.
The government is permitting firms to open one after the other with the hopes of reversing the economic setbacks suffered by the country with the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.
GDP in the second quarter shrank 16.5 percent—the worst reading since 1981—as nearly all of commerce was suspended from April to June. Likewise, unemployment rate in July doubled to 10 percent, from 5.4 percent during the same period last year, translating to at least 4.6 million Filipinos jobless in a time of economic crisis.