Businessmen warn: New lockdown 'disastrous'

Johanna O. Bajenting
·3 min read

LEADERS of business groups in Cebu are opposed to any new lockdown that the government might impose if a new strain of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), is detected in the country.

They were reacting to President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement on Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, that another lockdown was possible.

“Our economy is still reviving from the first lockdown, which is felt by all sectors, be it big or small. A second lockdown would be disastrous,” Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam told SunStar Cebu.

“But as we always say, health is wealth and our government and LGUs are doing their best to prevent the spread. Let’s not forget the minimum health protocols we have been doing,” he added.

Steven Yu, president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), favors granular lockdowns, which are presently allowed in areas with a high number of infections.

He said local government units (LGUs) are equipped to handle any spike in cases.

“If God forbid we come to that situation, then we can do a granular lockdown, which our local EOCs (Emergency Operations Centers) are equipped, trained and prepared to do. We also have enough health facilities/capacity for Covid, better than other areas in fact, so we are better prepared now to handle any spike or surge,” he said.

Yu said another lockdown would do more harm than good to the local economy.

“A city-wide lockdown is harmful to an already fragile and depressed local economy. We simply cannot take it anymore. It will further deepen the hole that we are in, which means it will deepen the scar and therefore, make it harder for us to recover in the next years. Some losses may become permanent, rather than temporary, which we should avoid,” he said.

Yu said they are hoping that vaccines against Covid-19 would be made available to majority of the population soon.

“This is so we can further open up the local economy, specifically the tourism and entertainment industry which was a big contributor to economic activities pre-Covid,” he said.

Rey Calooy, Filipino-Cebuano Business Club chairman, said micro, small and medium enterprises are prepared to comply with more stringent measures to avert any surge.

Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) president Carlo Suarez said they support government efforts to protect Filipinos from Covid-19.

He said, however, that stricter enforcement of quarantine protocols should be applied equally to all sectors.

”Regarding the discovery of the new highly contagious mutated Covid strain, HRRAC recommends that Cebu and the three independent cities remain in modified general community quarantine (MGCQ); however, we support stringent application of the established MGCQ protocols. It is imperative that the complete set of health standards are applied equally and consistently to all industries,” he said.

The group said it will endorse to its members complete adherence to all health standards.

Philexport Cebu executive director Fred Escalona said another lockdown would further batter the export industry.

“The export industry has not recovered yet but has shown some signs of a pickup. In terms of USD, export showed some improvement from minus 41.2 percent in July to minus 27.9 percent in October. This positive trend could go the opposite direction again if the government opts for stricter lockdowns like we had seven months ago,” Escalona said. (JOB)