The national government has lifted the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) recently set in place given the surge triggered by the COVID-19 Delta variant. In its place is modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), which is less rigid. Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion welcomed the change and noted the government’s willingness to explore his proposal for fully vaccinated individuals to have more mobility.
Metro Manila and Laguna shifted from ECQ to MECQ starting August 21; Bataan made the shift August 23. All these classifications will last until the end of August. The national government currently issues community quarantine classifications largely dependent on Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) recommendations on a bi-weekly or monthly basis.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, Concepcion shared that he wasn’t surprised by the decision. For him, going into modified ECQ instead of reverting to GCQ was the right step to take. “[As] you can see, the cases are still somewhere there, trending slightly upward… I think it’s correct to do MECQ.”
dzBB recently interviewed Philippine Exporters Confederation and Employers Confederation of the Philippines president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr, who also finds the MECQ classification to be a good thing. It “is better than extending ECQ,” he said.
Ortiz-Luis also released a statement that businesses were looking to see the lockdown eased in order for workers to go to work. It also read, in part, that it “includes facilitating mass transportation. We will continue to adhere to health and safety protocols and try to live with the virus while gradually opening the economy and moving on with our lives.”
Concepcion hopes the proposal of a bubble for fully vaccinated individuals is approved soon. Aside from possibly preventing further lockdowns, it would also give the business sector a chance to recover. This is because the fourth quarter traditionally sees strong consumption from the public, likely due to the holidays.
“We must preserve the gains of the lockdowns,” Concepcion said. “This bubble for fully vaccinated and bubble for unvaccinated will allow the economy to open up safely without any more lockdowns.” Hinging on 50 percent of Metro Manila’s population becoming fully vaccinated, his proposal gives fully inoculated people more mobility. This means being allowed to visit the likes of salons, wellness centers, and restaurants.
“The fully vaccinated can create some kind of economic activity,” Concepcion added. “Things are now in motion to make this our final lockdown.”