Business welcomes easing of quarantine

December 5, 2020 | Source:

Photo from The Podium Mall

Businesses welcome the easing of restrictions for shopping malls and commercial centers are prepared with health and safety measures in their establishments to ensure the safety of consumers who can now venture out of their homes.

This was a commitment shared by industry leaders as they welcomed the recent announcement of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) allowing persons aged 18 to 65 to go out of their homes since last week. Previously, the age group of authorized persons outside residence was 21 to 60 years old. Curfew hours, which were previously 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., will now be from midnight to 4 a.m.

Members of the private sector-led Ingat Angat Tayong Lahat campaign, a consortium of the country’s biggest companies and brands, lauded the recent government directive, stating that the changes will give the economy a much-needed boost.

Latest data from the Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority estimates that 4.6 million Filipinos became unemployed this year. Areas still under General Community Quarantine, such as Southern Tagalog and Metro Manila experienced the highest jobless rates at 12.4 percent and 15.8 percent, respectively.

“With the safe and gradual reopening of retail spaces, we are ensuring the well-being of our patrons but also that more people are able to recover their sources of livelihood,” emphasized SM Supermalls President Steven T. Tan. “SM has over 89,000 direct micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) partners.”

Aside from the health-mandated safety protocols, SM Supermalls is also introducing other innovations such as cash-free payment systems and other touch-free services. The event centers and open-air parks of its malls have been transformed into creative dining areas where customers can enjoy their favorite eats safely.

For his part, Megaworld’s Chief Strategy Officer, Kevin Tan, said: “We believe that the increases in operational capacity made possible by the new guidelines will have a positive impact on employment. A shorter and later curfew would also allow workers to travel with ease and will prevent situations of overcrowding because people are rushing home to beat the curfew.” 

Tan also acknowledged the strong mall culture in the Philippines, adding that “most shoppers still want to visit brick and mortar stores, especially for items that they would want to fit. Plus malls have become one stop shops for us – it’s where we do business and also bond with our loved ones.” Megaworld Lifestyle Malls are gearing up for the expected influx of shoppers by rolling out more safety measures in touchpoints like fitting rooms on top of the sanitation chambers and thermal scanners already in use.

Also benefiting from the relaxing of the restrictions are businesses such as fast-food chains and restaurants. 

McDonald’s PH president and CEO Kenneth Yang is looking forward to more diners. “We’re thankful, this is a welcome development. Customers now have more time to visit us. More operating hours will translate to additional shifts; this means more of our people can go back to work.”

For his part, George Royeca, Chief Transport Advocate of Angkas and proponent of Ingat Angat Tayong Lahat, underscored that learning to live with COVID-19 entails vigilance. “This is a dynamic situation. We’re careful but not fearful – we know that by following basic safety protocols, by taking care of ourselves and others – we will be able to safely move toward recovery.”

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