DTI urges NCR+ focused vaccination
Extended GCQ eyed in June
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez on Wednesday, (May 26) urged that the country’s COVID-19 vaccination should be focused on the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus, the economic engine of the country, to achieve an earlier herd immunity and faster economic recovery.
At the virtual 3R Program Launch Resilience for Recovery and Rebuild in COVID Times, the trade chief noted that NCR and its neighboring eight provinces are the economic engines of the country.
As such, these are densely populated, making these areas hotspots for COVID-19 cases.
Lopez said COVID-19 vaccination should be focused on NCR Plus and the eight nearby provinces.
“These areas should be prioritized to achieve faster herd immunity,” Lopez said in a mix of English and Filipino.
He also said that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is working on the expansion of the A4 Category to cover all economic frontliners, those who are exposed, and those who go to work using public transportation.
Only by doing this, he said, will we expect the faster reopening of businesses.
“We encourage the start of vaccination of all economic frontliners,” said Lopez, who was twice infected with the virus.
With the improvement in the COVID-19 cases in the country, Lopez raised hopes for an extended General Community Quarantine (GCQ) status for the NCR Plus starting next month.
He, however, said the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will finalize the recommendation and will be announced by President Duterte.
The NCR Plus has already been under the GCQ since May 15, but with heightened restrictions.
This means that indoor dine-in is still at 20 percent capacity, outdoor dine-in at 50 percent, and personal care services still at 30 percent capacity.
Non-essential activities like entertainment, indoor gyms, arcades, MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibits), and other indoor contact sports are still banned.
“Our numbers are getting better so we are looking at a bright outlook,” he said.
Once the NCR Plus is placed under the regular GCQ, Lopez said more economic sectors will be allowed to operate at higher capacity and more workers can return to their workplaces.
Since the start of the GCQ on May 16, only 8 percent of establishments surveyed by the DTI in the NCR remained closed, which is an improvement from 12 percent in the last survey.
During the re-imposition of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in March to April this year, the number of closed establishments went up to 16 percent. Last year, 4 out of 10 establishments closed shop.
With the rollout of vaccines and more people getting inoculated, Lopez expects the further reopening of the economy in June. He urged those who are still undecided to get vaccinated.