PRESIDENTIAL Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Maria A. Concepcion III is hoping to eventually increase the current 10-percent indoor capacity for commercial establishments to 30 percent, allowing further mobility under the Alert Level System (ALS).
Concepcion said during a briefing over the weekend he believes the pilot testing of the ALS in the National Capital Region (NCR) will provide insights as to how much operational capacity can be allowed in the future given the current Covid-19 situation.
Based on latest guidelines, restaurants and personal-care services are allowed 10-percent indoor capacity for the vaccinated population. Outdoor capacity, meanwhile, is capped at 30 percent regardless of the vaccination status.
“Baby steps lang ang kailangang gawin dito so hopefully tataas ‘yan if everything goes smoothly; tataas ‘yan to 20 percent and eventually 30 percent,” [Baby steps are needed here so we can hopefully increase the indoor capacity if everything goes smoothly; it will increase to 20 percent and eventually 30 percent,” he explained.
In addition, Concepcion also proposed the opening of gyms even at 10-percent capacity.
Under Alert 4 in NCR, indoor sports, courts or venues, fitness studies, gyms, swimming pools and other indoor leisure centers or facilities are not allowed. However, those conducting a bubble-type setup as provided by relevant guidelines are permitted.
The RFM Corp. CEO explained that increasing the indoor capacity will help the revenue flow of the commercial establishments, noting that maintaining 10-percent indoor dine-in capacity for restaurants will likely result in losses in the long run.
Meanwhile, Concepcion shared that the vaccination by the private sector is still ongoing, adding that about 1.2 million Covid-19 doses are arriving monthly. Majority of 80 percent of the shipments are allocated to the local government units while the remaining is for the private sector, he explained.
IN a recent statement, business leaders opposed the policy seen to discriminate against the unvaccinated population, even noting its impact on the reopening of the economy.
“The policy of discrimination is a half measure that could complicate the early opening of the entire economy, since the elusive herd immunity according to medical experts is impossible to achieve even if the entire population is fully vaccinated,” Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Acting President Edgardo G. Lacson said. “Many of the vaccinated people are senior citizens and those with co-morbidities, while the unvaccinated youth, the bulk of consumers, may not even be allowed to go out.”
Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines and the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc., said that businesses would not opt to open shops given the fewer number of customers are allowed to go out.
“Discriminating against the unvaccinated is not only unfair, illogical and hard to implement, but also expensive for our entrepreneurs who may even have to hire a person just to check the vaccination cards and manage another queue just for this group,” he added.
The business leaders urged the government to accelerate the vaccination program rollout and Covid-19 testing.