Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion expressed his support for the proposal to establish another level at the existing Covid-19 Alert Levels System that would have even more relaxed restrictions than Alert Level 1.
Concepcion made the statement following discussions to roll out Alert Level Zero in the country as the number of coronavirus cases decreased.
In a statement, Concepcion put forward his suggestions on what would constitute mandates for the private sector under the new proposed category of the Philippines’s Alert Levels System.
“I support the move,” he said.
One of his suggestions was that face masks may no longer be necessary for outdoor settings unless the physical distance is impossible, such as when people are gathered during political rallies.
He also suggested rolling Alert Level Zero out first in Alert Level 1 areas by April. Metro Manila and 39 other areas are under Alert Level 1 until March 15.
“So far, we have not seen any superspreader events that can be directly attributed to the rallies,” he said.
The Go Negosyo founder also believes the Alert Level Zero status will incentivize local governments to step up their vaccination efforts to qualify under the less stringent measures.
As for indoor mask mandates, Concepcion said business owners must be given the freedom to decide how best to keep themselves and their customers from being infected.
“I think it is high time we trusted the business owners on what they need to do to protect themselves and their customers,” he said.
The government’s pandemic task force had earlier announced that it would discuss the parameters of an Alert Level Zero as the number of Covid-19 cases in the country continues to drop and critical indicators, such as healthcare utilization rate, remain in the low-risk classification.
Early this year, Concepcion proposed a similar scheme in which alert levels will only be put in place as needed in each area. The system would be identical to a typhoon alert level, where it would only be called when a threat is detected.
OCTA Research had recently released a ranking of Covid-19 numbers in East Asia. As of March 9, the Philippines is in the “very low” risk classification of ADAR (average daily attack rate, or infections per 100,000 population) at 0.68, with a seven-day average of only 766 infections.
“With Alert Level Zero, we can basically allow the business establishments to draw up the health protocols that they believe should be applied to them. They should have some leeway. They’ve had two years of practice and are by now quite aware of what needs to be done,” he said
Concepcion also raised the possibility of expediting the return of face-to-face classes in areas under an Alert Level Zero classification.
“Parents can also benefit from the resumption of face-to-face classes as the children can now be supervised by professional teachers, and the parents can go back to work,” he said.
“We don’t need to subject the parents to additional stress by making them choose between their children and the opportunity to earn a living,” he added.
The Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has recently allowed universities and colleges in areas under Alert Level 1 to resume face-to-face classes of up to full classroom capacity as long as all students and teaching and non-teaching personnel are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
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