Businesses must be responsible enough to keep implementing minimum public health and safety protocols so that the National Capital Region (NCR) does not backslide into high COVID infection rates.
This call was made by Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Benjamin Abalos Jr. and Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion amidst reports that business establishments have become lax in their observance of the health protocols necessary to keep COVID-19 infections in check, specifically in checking the vaccination cards of customers allowed inside their establishments.
“We must stay vigilant. Even if we will have vaccinated 90 percent of NCR by December, this does not mean that we can relax our adherence to minimum public health standards,” said Abalos.
Concepcion, meanwhile, called on the private sector to be strict about screening customers before allowing them into areas or activities that are considered high-risk. “Business establishments like restaurants, spas and salons should ensure high compliance of allowing only fully vaccinated persons in their indoor spaces,” he said. “Let us not lose the trust that the government has given us. We all want to move NCR to Alert Level 1 in December,” he added. “If we want to keep the economy open, we must do as we promised and enforce these safety measures,” he said.
The NCR is currently under Alert Level 2, the second most relaxed level and with most businesses open except for a few that are still considered high risk. The government also recently removed face shield mandates and started vaccinating children ages 12 to 17. Children and senior citizens have also been allowed to engage in outdoor activities following months of being restricted to their homes.
Abalos and Concepcion’s reminders follow reports of non-compliance among business establishments with the proper wearing of masks and checking of vaccination cards so that only fully vaccinated customers are allowed inside closed indoor spaces.
Last Friday, November 12, also saw the positivity rate spike to 5.5 percent, after two days of recording below-5% positivity rates for the country. Although the positivity rate has returned to below the WHO-recommended level of 5% in subsequent days, the spike was seen as a warning that people should not let their guard down.
Although a slight uptick is expected as people become more mobile, complacency is seen as the enemy in the country’s march toward overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. Concepcion cautioned that increased mobility that is not tempered with adherence to health protocols might put in peril all the gains that the private sector and the government have achieved in the almost two years that COVID-19 forced businesses to lock down.
“Cases can go up because of increased mobility and we should not be concerned if these are among the fully vaccinated. But if the cases go up among the unvaccinated, then we will have a problem,” said Concepcion, referring to data that shows unvaccinated persons make up upwards of 70 percent of those hospitalized with COVID-19.
“We have gained a lot in achieving more capacity for businesses,” he said. “Now is not the time to stop observing health standards. Christmas is almost upon us and it will be important in seeing our entrepreneurs through to a better 2022.”
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