'Hard lockdown' in Metro Manila to displace 1.8M workers - DTI Chief

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 29) — Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez warned the country cannot afford another hard lockdown in Metro Manila as businesses would be forced to close or scale down operations, affecting about 1.8 million workers.

Lopez on Thursday thumbed down calls to reimpose the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region for two weeks, "unless there's a steep surge" in COVID-19 cases.

"Ang bawat lockdown, nawawala billions of pesos na wages, pati mga negosyo nagsasara," he told a virtual briefing.

[Translation: Every lockdown, we lose billions of pesos in wages as businesses close.]

Lopez said if ECQ is reimposed in Metro Manila, the number of businesses that will be affected will jump to 16% from the current 8% to 10%.

This will lead to 1.8 million jobless Filipinos, he added.

Metro Manila remains under general community quarantine (GCQ) with "heightened restrictions" until August 15.

READ: Metro Manila to remain under GCQ with heightened restrictions until August 15

Lopez also said he believes the government's strategy in combating the virus works as the infections are manageable.

He added that while the highly contagious Delta variant has been detected in the country, cases are "contained."

The Department of Health reported 97 new Delta cases on Thursday, pushing the total to 216.