Trade chief backs relaxed rules for vaccinated people in MECQ areas

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 28) — Establishments that offer personal care and dine-in services in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine should be allowed to reopen only for vaccinated customers, a Cabinet official said on Saturday.

“[I] am pushing for allowing vaccinated to allow sa bawal na sectors (that are prohibited to operate in MECQ areas) — dine-in and personal care,” Trade Secretary Mon Lopez said in a statement.

Lopez said his proposal could convince more people to get vaccinated and help restore jobs.

Around one million workers in the restaurant industry and over 200,000 employees in the personal care services sector have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Lopez.

"Yung mga workers...nagpabakuna talaga. Masasakripisyo sila masyado kung hindi mo bubuksan ang sektor nila, after mong sabihin na magpabakuna sila," Lopez told CNN Philippines' Newsroom Weekend on Saturday.

[Translation: The workers are already vaccinated. They will sacrifice too much if we will not open their sector, after we ordered them to get vaccinated.]

The Department of Health said while Lopez’s proposal will be studied, other issues should be considered.

“Marami pa sa mga kababayan natin ang hindi bakunado—hindi sila bakunado not because they don't like to be vaccinated but because supplies are not there yet,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing.

[Translation: Many of our fellow Filipinos are unvaccinated not because they don't like to be vaccinated but because supplies are not there yet.]

“For us to impose this differentiation between the vaccinated and unvaccinated will be unfair for them,” she added.

Sixteen areas, including Metro Manila, will be under MECQ on September 1 to 7. Under MECQ, people must stay at homes except when they need to do essential activities such as buying necessities and going to work.