MANILA – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) might be sensitive in reopening indoor economic activities, including indoor dine-in services, due to new variants of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said on Thursday.
“So if we really reopen, the indoor restaurants –unless they can really do the engineering controls– they might be kept closed and only the outdoor activities will only be allowed,” Lopez said in a television interview.
From nearly 2,000 daily cases at the start of the year, Covid-19 cases in the country in the past days even breached the 15,000-mark.
The high number of Covid-19 cases made the IATF to place National Capital Region and provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March 29 to April 11.
“To us, this is already the all-time big-time lockdown,” Lopez said. “We also say that we cannot continue in ECQ for a long time. What we are looking at is a gradual movement, the reopening to (the) next level of sectors.”
He added the current situation has hit hard entrepreneurs in tourism and food establishments, particularly indoor dine-in restaurants.
“With the new restrictions, there are many businesses that will remain closed for the meantime, or will really slow down their operations,” he said.
Citing a survey of DTI, Lopez said closed businesses at the onset of the pandemic reached 38 percent.
“Over time when we were reopening, it went down to 6 percent then to 4.6 percent recently. Others have completely shut down or shifted to other business,” he added. (PNA)