Trade chief backs gradual lifting of Luzon lockdown

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 01 2020 12:50 PM

A sanitation tent disinfects people entering De la Fuente Street in Manila for groceries, March 30, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez backed Wednesday the proposal of some businessmen to gradually lift the lockdown in Luzon as he emphasized the need to resume business operations as the country continued to battle the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak.

Lopez said the lockdown can be lifted gradually to allow businesses to operate again and so that Filipinos could return to work.

"Gradual muna, importante mabalik 'yung mga negosyo na kailangan magtuloy para po may hanapbuhay ang ating mga kababayan, again following the new norm, 'yung social distancing," he said in a virtual press briefing.

(It should be gradual. It's important for businesses to resume operations so that people can go to work, again following the new norm, social distancing.)

Businesses involved in the supply chain of food products, medical products, and other necessities should be prioritized, he added.

The trade chief noted that even businessmen he has spoken with have warned against a total lifting of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon by April 12, the end date government had set. 

Once businesses are allowed to resume, Lopez said companies must adopt a "new culture" which includes physical distancing and avoiding mass gatherings.

"Kahit ho magbalikan sa trabaho, mayroon natong ganitong mga new culture o new norm," he said.

(Even if work resumes, we will have a new culture or norm.)

Government is still studying the possible lifting or extension of the enhanced community quarantine, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Wednesday.

"It will be based on science. it will be based on facts and figures, and the cooperation of everybody," he said.