'Bubbles' for fully vaccinated to create more econ activity, lessen lockdowns - Palace adviser

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 20) — The proposed "bubble" for vaccinated people will boost the country's economic activity while lessening the tendency to revert to stricter lockdowns, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said Friday.

Concepcion told CNN Philippines' The Source that his proposed transportation bubble exclusively for vaccinated individuals in Metro Manila will primarily protect those who are not inoculated against the coronavirus. He stressed that such system may also pave the way for greater mobility among the fully inoculated ones that could boost consumer spending.

"Basically, 50% (of the population) was our target. Most of the LGUs in NCR — let me be clear, the proposal is only for NCR — are approaching close to 50%," Concepcion said. "And once that happens, the fully vaccinated people only will be allowed to enter malls, restaurants, spas etc. And why is that so? It’s very clear that what we have to protect are the unvaccinated people."

He added that such system "will allow the economy to open up safely without lockdowns." He said certain buses for example may be designated for the vaccinated and unvaccinated so there would be less risks of transmission when moving from their places of residence to their workplaces or other areas.

Concepcion said this system can be implemented until 90% of Metro Manila residents have completed their doses.

"I believe this is the way forward to avoiding already lockdowns in the future. We are not the first country to implement (a system) such as this. Singapore, Indonesia and many other countries have started to move in this direction to allow greater mobility for the vaccinated," he said.

Malacañang recently said it is open to such proposal once Metro Manila achieves a population protection of 50%. Vince Dizon, COVID-19 task force's deputy chief implementer, said officials are confident that NCR will achieve its goal of immunizing 50% of its target population by end-August – with latest data now at 41%.

READ: Palace: ‘Transportation bubble’ in NCR possible once 50% of population vaccinated 

Concepcion added that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has so far expressed optimism about his proposal, but the latter is still appealing for additional vaccines for public utility vehicle drivers.

Meanwhile, Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergerie acknowledged such recommendation, but noted that policies must be "non-discriminatory" until majority of Filipinos have received their COVID-19 shots.

"We value the recommendations from the private sector and always consider their proposals. However, policies should be non-discriminatory at this point since we still have to vaccinate a large portion of our population," Vergeire said.

"Remember, we are vaccinating as many Filipinos as possible and continuously implementing the minimum public health standards in order to save lives and also protect those who are not yet vaccinated," she added.

As of August 18, more than 12 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.