The government will no longer enforce COVID-19 lockdowns, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said in his first State of the Nation Address Monday, saying the country can no longer afford to put one into place.
“The threat of COVID-19 remains, especially as new variants are being discovered. But we can no longer afford another lockdown,” he said.
“We will no longer implement lockdowns,” the President added.
Last year, the economy grew by 5.7 percent, a turnaround from the 9.6-percent contraction in 2020 when the hardest lockdowns were imposed.
Marcos underscored the need to “balance health and the well-being of our people on one hand, and the economy on the other hand.”
The President said the alert level system for COVID-19 will remain as he expressed a renewed push for the vaccine booster rollout.
He also vowed to build more hospitals, clinics, and regional health units as he called on Congress to hasten the passage of measures for the establishment of a Center for Disease Control and Prevention as well as a Vaccine Institute.
“Beyond the issues that the pandemic has brought, the need for a stronger health care system is self-evident. We must bring medical services to the people and not wait for them to come to our hospitals and health care centers,” Marcos said.
Reacting to the President’s policy pronouncement that there will be no more lockdowns, an economist said the country is in a strong position to hit the growth target of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent this year.
“It is good for economic growth, with no more lockdowns that are costly for the government,” Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. chief economist Michael Ricafort said.
Earlier, National Statistician Dennis Mapa noted the average unemployment rate of 5.8 percent during the first five months of 2022 was below the joblessness levels in 2020 and 2021.
“There’s improvement in the employment outlook,” he said.