GO Negosyo founder Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd on Wednesday said the Philippines should open up its economy “as much as possible” even with the slight increase in Covid-19 cases in the country.
Concepcion, who is part of the Marcos administration’s Private Sector Advisory Council, said that we cannot restrict mobility as “the lesser mobility we have, the lesser consumer spending will be.”
“We should still remain cautious of the pandemic. It’s still there but we can see that Covid-19 infections are rising in the country not because of the optional use of outdoor masks. It’s because a lot of Filipinos still do not want to avail of booster shots,” Concepcion said in a public briefing.
“We cannot restrict mobility, since it’s important for our economy to grow. The less mobility we have, the less consumer spending you will have. We have to open up as much as possible, all sectors in tourism,” he added.
The Go Negosyo founder said the country has to continue moving forward and urged Filipinos to take their booster shots to maintain their level of immunity against the virus.
“At this point in time, provided that your healthcare utilization rate is manageable and low, we should keep moving forward. We all know that Covid-19 is here, many people are getting infected, our positivity rate is increasing. But most of the cases are still mild,” Concepcion said.
“But again to those who are at the highest risk, they should use masks and if they don’t have booster shots yet, they should avail this as this is important,” he added.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. had signed an executive order (EO) making the wearing of face masks outdoors optional.
Prior to Marcos’ approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF) recommendation of the voluntary masking, Department of Health Officer in Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire maintained that they still prefer people to keep on wearing their face masks.
The IATF earlier proposed to make the wearing of face masks optional in open spaces or non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation, provided that the Covid-19 booster uptake in the country improves.
However, the EO states that “not fully vaccinated individuals, senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals are highly encouraged to wear their masks and physical distancing will be observed at all times.”
The President favored the recommendation since the country is only 6 percent away from the wall of immunity. At least 80 percent of the eligible population has received their first booster shot, according to the Palace.
More than 72 million Filipinos have completed their vaccination against Covid-19. However, only 18 million people have gotten their booster shots.
The Philippines has confirmed 3.9 million Covid-19 cases, with over 62,000 deaths, since the pandemic started in 2020.