Flat growth seen if outbreak spills over until June

Carlo Lorenciana

CEBU is facing a sharp economic slump as the government moves to put the province under lockdown, reeling from disruptions in business, work and daily life.

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Steven Yu called for tightening measures to save the economy. If the economic pain spills over to the second half of the year, he feared a possible contraction in Cebu’s economy for the whole year.

“If a lockdown similar to Luzon happens and it extends to June, then we may see a flat growth this year,” the business owner told SunStar Cebu Thursday, March 26, 2020.

Philippine Exporters Confederation Cebu executive director Fred Escalona estimates 70 percent of Cebu’s export output will be hit, as economic zone manufacturers have also been told to temporarily shut down amid the enhanced mass quarantine orders.

“We’re now on limited operations like three days per week with a skeletal staff. The lockdown could cause huge economic havoc considering that 95 percent of exporters are small and medium enterprises,” he said.

Escalona also lamented that orders from abroad have been cancelled too “because of their own measures and retrenchments.”

“I would guess around 70 percent as economic zones are also ordered to stop manufacturing due to this enhanced quarantine,” he said when asked about the impact on export production.

Yu said local governments in Cebu should implement a “customized lockdown” to manage its impact.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella has placed the entire Cebu City under a state of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) effective 12 noon of March 28, 2020 until 12 noon of April 28 or unless sooner lifted or withdrawn.

In his Executive Order (EO) 64, Labella directed all residents of Cebu City during the effectivity of the ECQ to stay at home with movement outside their home allowed only for the purpose of accessing basic necessities.

All business establishments in the city are also ordered closed for the duration of the ECQ. Exempted for 24 hours are hospitals, clinics, laboratories, pharmacies, drugstores, gasoline stations, cargo handlers, forwarders, shipping lines, water, electricity, cable and telecommunication companies, funeral parlors, establishments manufacturing medical supplies and establishments rendering delivery services.

The EO also limited the operating hours of select establishments until 8 p.m. Hotels or similar establishments are not allowed to operate except those accommodating guests who have existing booking accommodation as of March 26 and guests with long-term leases.

“While the enhanced community quarantine will create undue hardships for the hospitality industry, we support the Province of Cebu and the LGUs (local government units) to address the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu president Carlo Suarez on the suspension of hotel operations.

The city and provincial governments in Cebu have tightened restrictions on business activity, temporarily shutting non-essential retail shops, prohibiting entry of all persons on international flightsand urging people to stay home.

As the Covid-19 pandemic is still evolving, there remains a significant degree of uncertainty over the severity and duration of the global outbreak, and the trajectory of the economic recovery once the outbreak has been contained.