By Tracy Cabrera
SEVENTEEN business sectors—from mining and construction to film production and even pet shops, hardware stores and car wash establishments—have been allowed to operate at full capacity in areas that have been placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) as part of government’s initiative to rebuild local economy after an alarming slump due to the ongoing coronavirus global pandemic.
In a memorandum circular issued by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), trade officials gave recognition to the increasing need to provide stability for businesses operators and re-stimulate the country’s economy amidst the health crisis.
New Guidelines for full business operations were included in the DTI’s Memorandum Circular No. 20-52 and these will take effect immediately upon the circular’s publication and filing with the University of the Philippines Law Center.
In an official statement, trade secretary Ramon Lopez explained that the issuance of the circular was part of Duterte administration’s efforts to assuage the economic impact of the pandemic and address the growing number of joblessness, poverty and hunger incidence in the country.
“The DTI is authorized by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) to adjust operating capacity of businesses,” Lopez disclosed when asked whether the circular still needed approval.
Aside from mining and quarrying, those that will be allowed to operate with 100 percent of their workforce include financial services other than banks, such as money exchange, insurance, reinsurance and lending companies; legal and accounting; management consultancy; architecture and engineering; technical testing and analysis; scientific and research development; advertising and market research; computer programming, information services and related activities; and publishing and printing services.
In addition to government or construction projects also allowed were film, music and TV production; job recruitment for overseas; “other” services, such as photography, fashion, industrial, graphic and interior design; wholesale and retail trade of vehicles; repair of motor vehicles, including car wash; non-leisure activities in malls and commercial centers; and non-leisure wholesale and retail.
The last category covers hardware stores; clothing and accessories; bookstores and school and office supplies; infant care supplies; pet shops, pet food and pet care supplies; information technology, communications and electronic equipment; flower, jewelry, novelty, antique, perfume shops; toy stores except their playgrounds and amusement areas; music stores; art galleries (selling only); and firearms and ammunition trading.
Lopez said that based on regular monitoring activities conducted by the DTI, the businesses in the new list covered in his memo had not been allowed to fully operate under GCQ but were found “compliant with the minimum public health and safety protocols.”
The DTI also considered an assessment by the Department of Health (DoH) that it now took longer for the number of Covid-19 cases to double in places under GCQ and that the rate that critical care facilities were being used had decreased.
The DTI will also allow barbershops and salons to operate up to 75-percent capacity but “subject to strict physical distancing.”
Dine-in services at restaurants and fast-food establishments, however, will only be allowed at more than 50 percent of capacity with strict physical distancing. (iam)