Protocols against the pandemic coronavirus in the next 14 days will be important in ensuring the business will not take a dangerous dive, presidential adviser on entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said Friday.
In an interview on Dobol B sa News TV heard nationwide, he said this meant staying home, liking it to the last two minutes in a basketball game with the rules duly followed.
“If after one month or two months we return again to the Enhanced Community Quarantine, business would surely drop, go, stop, go, stop, that cannot be the scenario,” Concepcion said in a mix of English and Tagalog.
Concepcion sounded optimistic the ECQ over Metro Manila and other high-risk provinces would be lifted on May 15, while acknowledging that continuous COVID-19 testing was important in the gradual reopening of businesses in the country.
Malacañang, meanwhile, backpedaled from its previous announcement a day earlier that work gatherings and religious activities would be allowed in areas under the General Community Quarantine, saying such activities remained prohibited in areas under GCQ.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque clarified that mass gatherings, including religious and work-related, would still not be allowed in areas under GCQ because it would be difficult to observe social distancing.
“The Inter-Agency Task Force or IATF changed the guidelines, prohibiting work gatherings at religious activities even in areas under ng GCQ,” Roque said during the Laging Handa press briefing.
Local officials earlier expressed concern over the resumption of religious activities, saying it might defeat the purpose of preventing the spread of the coronavirus, Roque said.
He said this prompted the IATF for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to review its policies anew.
The Palace spokesman has earlier said that after his initial announcements, officials from areas under GCQ called him to protest the decision, complaining that social distancing would be difficult to implement in religious and work-related mass gatherings.
However, he said malls and construction activities would be opened but limited under GCQ, saying only stores that delivered basic goods and services would be opened, and only people between the ages of 21 to 59 would be allowed to enter.
Social distancing will also be observed.
Meanwhile, ride-hailing services such as Grab are allowed to operate in areas under GCQ, not in ECQ areas, according to Malacañang.
Under the guidelines released by the Department of Transportation, taxis and TNVS are allowed to operate but subject to strict physical distancing and sanitary practices.
In related developments, a jeepney drivers association in Manila on Friday asked the government to allow them to resume plying their routes.
Rico Lapaz, Paco Nagtahan Jeepney Drivers Association president, vowed to ensure social distancing and implement safety measures in their vehicles to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Thursday some mass transportation would be allowed to operate in areas under GCQ provided that one-meter distancing among passengers would be observed.
However, jeepneys are still banned to operate in areas under GCQ.
Meanwhile, a member of the House of Representatives urged the Department. of Tourism and hotel industry leaders to formulate standards and protocols that would allow them to resume operations while preventing the spread of COVID-19.
According to Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones, chairperson of the House committee on tourism: “We have to learn the painful lessons of this pandemic and recognize that the old practices and previous standards applied in our hotel industry will no longer be sufficient to prevent outbreaks like COVID-19; the priority now should be to come up with ways to make our hotels as outbreak-proof as possible.”
“The hotel industry should adapt to the new normal and adopt new standards.”
Aragones said numerous protocols need to be reviewed by the DOT and hotel industry representatives together with the Department of Health to determine how to best prevent outbreaks like COVID-19 in establishments that cater mostly to tourists and travelers.
“They must review everything a hotel guest must go through, from check-in to check-out, to identify and address potential vulnerabilities and opportunities for virus transmission,” she added.
Aragones offered several examples, such as: (1) putting in place systems that would allow for contact-less check-in, wherein guests can simply get their keycards and proceed straight to their rooms;
(2) doing away with breakfast buffets that require guests to use the same serving spoons to get food and replacing these with bento boxes;
(3) and expanding hotel kitchens and instituting better spacing of tables in restaurants to allow for proper social distancing.
“When guests become sick, there must be PPE (personal protective equipment) on hand and hotel staff must be trained to immediately respond so they can properly isolate the guests until health authorities can be called in to assess the situation and determine the next course of action,” explained the legislator.