50% of market demand to 'not recover' if minors still banned in public places

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 14) — Half of consumer demand will remain absent if the government continues to bar minors from going out during the coronavirus pandemic, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said on Thursday.

During the forum of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines or FINEX, the official stressed the importance of allowing minors to go out to spur economic activities.

"We have to recover lost demands by allowing family activities," he said.

Citing a report from the World Bank, Chua said no country keeps their children at home 100 percent.

"In a young country like ours, where the median age is 25 years old and 40 percent of the population is below 20 years old, then if the children are not participating in economic activities, and the families are not participating, up to 50 percent of the total sales and demands are not going to recover," the NEDA acting chief said.

"That is where we are today," he added.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government earlier said only 15 to 65 year olds are allowed to go out in areas under general community quarantine and modified GCQ, subject to local governments' discretion.

However, Metro Manila, which contributes 32 percent of the Philippine economy, continues to limit the movements of people aged 17 below. They are only allowed to go outside to purchase essential goods and services.

The country's capital and nine other areas, including Isabela, Santiago City, Batangas, Iloilo, Tacloban City, Lanao del Sur, Iligan City, Davao City, and Davao del Norte, remain under GCQ in January.

The rest of the Philippines are under modified GCQ.

Last month, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said restricting people aged below 15, and those older than 65, delays the country's economic revival and jobs recovery.

"What we're talking about now, do we allow minors with parents to go out? That will be a big boost to the economy, especially to retail trade," Lopez said during a virtual briefing last December 9.

Chua also reiterated at the forum the need for sufficient yet safe public transportation, noting visits to public transportation stations remain down by around 50 percent.

While the Department of Transportation has started reducing physical distancing in mass transit, trains in particular, public transportation operations continued to be limited.

"The economy is strong enough to recover if we allow it to do so, but quarantine restrictions prevent it from fully recovering," he said.