PRESIDENTIAL Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Maria Concepcion 3rd has reiterated his call for the National Capital Region to adopt granular lockdowns and allow more mobility for vaccinated individuals, saying it is time for a "different" approach in fighting the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is expected to approve the implementation in Metro Manila of a new strategy where alert level-based granular lockdowns will replace community quarantines starting September 16.
"The granular lockdown approach is the right idea and I am glad the government is moving in that direction... I hope that this time they would be ready because I believe the granular lockdown approach will allow us to coexist with Covid-19," Concepcion said during a town hall meeting organized by the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship-Go Negosyo on Monday.
"The shift to implementation of granular lockdowns is a good idea instead of implementing widescale lockdowns. There is a sufficient level of vaccinated individuals in Metro Manila and I think it is already appropriate," he said. "Patience is running out and we have to provide a different solution to help defeat Covid- 19."
Concepcion said despite breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated individuals, they still will not experience the severe symptoms that could lead to hospitalization.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benjamin Abalos Jr. expressed support for Concepcion's proposal to reopen the economy to fully vaccinated individuals.
"We are one with the call of Mr. Concepcion to urge the IATF-EID on easing the restriction subject to the study of scientific, economic and international data," Abalos, who is the mayor of Mandaluyong City, said.
He suggested that the task force revise its standards for classifying restrictions, such as the hospital utilization rate, which he said does not reflect the situation in a given local government unit.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año promised Concepcion they will discuss at the IATF-EID level the feasibility of setting up "vaccine bubbles" exclusive zones where the fully vaccinated can have access to dine-in restaurants and personal care services such as salons and spas.
Local government units in Metro Manila, represented by Pateros Mayor Miguel Ponce, expressed hope the vaccine bubble concept will be implemented in the region, given its high vaccination rate.
Epimetrics founder Dr. John Wong suggested that the government step up its campaign to convince more people to get vaccinated.
Concepcion said if the government does not find a way where people can live with the Covid-19 virus, the government may not be able to sustain funding for virus-related expenses such as testing, tracing, vaccination and even aid distribution.
"The government has to earn revenues for them to be able to fund this, and where will the revenues come in? From the taxes, coming from the private sector and the employees we hired to pay the taxes. So, without economic activity, saving lives will not be sustainable," Concepcion said.