Lopez still optimistic on economic recovery despite increase in Covid cases


Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez still believes that economic recovery is still possible this year if only localized or granular lockdowns will be imposed amid the rising coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the past week.


He said granular lockdowns should be implemented in areas with a spike in Covid-19 numbers to contain the infection while allowing areas with no surge in cases to remain in status quo, even if the government is pushing for the reopening of more economic activities.


“By implementing strict protocols and localized lockdown, I think our projected rebound is still doable especially in the second and third quarter,” Lopez said partly in Filipino in a radio interview Monday.


He added the economic cluster expects the economy to post positive growth this year.


With Covid-19 cases in the country breaching the 3,000-mark again, Lopez said the DTI is “very flexible and sensitive” in this kind of situation.


He said even the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has further allowed more economic activities to reopen, they give local government units (LGUs) the power to decide to suspend or postpone the reopening of sectors, such as cinemas and arcades depending on the Covid-19 situation in their localities.


Cinemas, libraries, archives, museums, cultural centers, video and interactive game arcades, tourist attractions such as parks, theme parks, natural sites, historical landmarks, and the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) industry were the latest economic activities that the IATF-EID reopened starting last Friday.


“But now that the numbers are rising, we will understand if they will suspend that part of the reopening,” Lopez said in Filipino.


The DTI chief added LGUs also have the flexibility to decide on the percentage of the operating capacity of restaurants and internet café, among others, if there is an increasing number of Covid-19 cases in their areas.


“We, even in the economic cluster, want to reopen the economy. But we will not sacrifice the health situation,” he said.


Meanwhile, Lopez said the rising number of Covid-19 cases is not due to the newly reopened sectors as these economic activities were allowed to reopen on March 5.


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