Business leaders recommend steps to ease Luzon lockdown

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 2) - A group of business leaders submitted on Thursday a list of recommendations to the government’s Interagency Task Force to help Luzon ease into the “new normal” with the scheduled end of the enhanced community quarantine by mid-April.

The implementing guidelines issued on March 16 by Malacanang set the expiration of the Luzon-wide quarantine at 12 midnight April 13. There are, however, calls for its extension due to the still increasing number of coronavirus infections.

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said he and 60 other businessmen, along with Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, discussed the recommendations last weekend.

Concepcion, who did not identify the business leaders or their organizations, said one of the key recommendations is to shift from a Luzon-wide quarantine to a barangay-level lockdown.

“We feel that it will allow the streets to be open, there will be no need for checkpoint, the flow of goods will be faster,” Concepcion told CNN Philippines’ News Night.

He said that not all areas in Luzon are infected with the highly infectious coronavirus disease.

“I think a more focused approach on the barangay will help us identify the level of virus spread,” added Concepcion.

Another recommendation is to allow manufacturing, construction and agriculture to operate based on demand.

With this, workers in construction, particularly of government projects, non-food manufacturing, energy infrastructure, and government be allowed to physically report to work.

Concepcion also said that businessmen also recommended to allow a few public transportation to operate for workers who need to go to their offices. Only private vehicles or those consistent with social distancing will be allowed.

However, flights in and out of Metro Manila should remain cancelled.

Further, the business sector suggested to confine people within their homes as schools, malls, and other establishments that draw large crowd must remain closed.

Concepcion said that another meeting will take place this weekend to discuss the recommendations.

The country has now 2,633 cases of COVID-19, with 107 deaths and 51 recoveries.

The government’s economic team has already prepared a ₱27.1-billion spending plan for everyone affected of the lockdown.

Apart from that, the government also implemented a social amelioration program that provides cash aid of ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 to the target beneficiaries which include senior citizens, persons with disabilities, homeless, among others.