Trade Dept. wants more businesses to operate, shorter curfew hours regardless of quarantine status

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 25) - Whether Metro Manila remains under general community quarantine or shifts to a relaxed status, the Trade Department is just hoping more businesses will be allowed to operate and curfew hours will be shorter so shops can remain open longer.

“Regardless of any quarantine [status], basta madagdagan sana yung mga makakapag-operate na mga negosyo. Then sa curfew hours, kung pwedeng [iklian] kaunti or tanggalin na lang all together, mas magiging pabor sa mga negosyo,” said Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo in an interview with CNN Philippines on Friday.

[Translation: Regardless of any quarantine status, we just want more businesses to operate. Then on the curfew hours, we are hoping if this can shorten or remove it, this will be more favorable for businesses.]

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez recently expressed support for easing the community quarantine status in Metro Manila as long everyone will practice safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“For Secretary Lopez kasi, regardless of any restriction, kahit MGCQ or GCQ pa lang, ang importante sa amin is yung discipline. Yung personal discipline, then following the protocols strictly,” said Castelo.

[Translation: For Secretary Lopez, regardless of any restriction, whether it’s MGCQ or GCQ, what important is the discipline. You should have personal discipline, so you must also follow the protocols strictly.]

If ever Metro Manila shifts to modified GCQ, Castelo said the operational capacities of establishments will also increase, but still subject to minimum safety protocols. This means those which have 30-percent capacity will be upgraded to 50-percent, while those at 50-percent capacity could accommodate 75-percent of customers.

Castelo added that shorter curfew hours would also mean more customers for establishments.

“Then curfew hours, for example, the restaurants, magiging mataas yung turnover nila ng customers kapag [pinaikli] yung curfew hours natin,” she said.

[Translation: With the curfew hours, for example, restaurants would have higher customer turnover if you shorten the curfew hours.]

However, the 17 city mayors are not yet confident to relax the community quarantine status in the region until the end of October.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce next week the latest community quarantine status of areas across the country.