March 2021 quarantine easing seen with vaccine arrival this month

AdChoiceTV News — Quarantine restrictions may be further eased by as early as March after coronavirus vaccines begin arriving in the Philippines this month, the acting planning chief said on Monday.

“With the data we’re seeing and if everyone cooperates, I think we can further relax after this month,” Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said in a briefing.

Any relaxation stands to benefit Metro Manila the most, where general community quarantine (GCQ) has been in effect since the government started to gradually lift prohibitions and help the economy rebound from pandemic shock. The area is responsible for the bulk of economic activity. null

So far, 6 other areas including Mountain Province where the UK variant of coronavirus was first detected are under GCQ. The rest of the archipelago are under a looser modified general community quarantine where more businesses are permitted to open and larger gatherings are allowed. 

Chua had repeatedly batted for the lifting of the remaining movement restrictions which he said is vital for the economy to recuperate from last year’s 9.5% downfall. But efforts to do so had been repeatedly pushed back by rising cases and recently, the detection of a more contagious mutation of the virus.

Vaccine orders would start arriving this month though, and the Philippines is placing its bets for economic revival on a massive inoculation drive that would see 70 million people immunized. However, how will this proceed has been largely unclear apart from a list of priority individuals to get the jab first, prompting analysts to be pessimistic about an immediate economic bounce-back.

“The Philippines has not yet secured enough vaccines to cover its entire population and faces obstacles such as logistical challenges and growing doubt about vaccine efficacy,” Eric Chiang of Moody’s Analytics, a think tank, said in a note.

At home, Chua was also cognizant of the likelihood that even with quarantines at their most relaxed state, young consumers, representing 40% of the population, may not immediately heed government’s call to go out, spend, and drive economic activity.

“Even with the reduction of age restrictions, many parents are exercising a careful approach. It doesn’t mean that people will troop to malls if the economy is reopened,” he said. — via Irvin Chua

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