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Eased curfews, staggered work shifts urged amid economic reopening in the Philippines

IATF on Emerging Infectious Diseases is seeing good indicators that could merit the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in many parts of Metro Manila, according to DILG spokesman and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya. Soldier on the quarantine chekpoint in the Manila, Philippines. Photo: Boy Santos. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MANILA, Oct 25, 2020, PhilStar. Three government agencies signed a joint advisory Sunday urging businesses and local governments to look into staggering work shifts and eased curfew schedules, respectively, as the national government looks to further open up the nation’s economy after months of community quarantine, The Philippine Star reported.

In Joint Advisory No. 20-01 dated Thursday, October 22 but released Sunday, the interior, labor, and trade departments said this was to allow more workers and buyers to contribute to the economy.

“As we gradually re-open the economy in increments mindful of the current hospital capacity threshold, local government units, where applicable, are enjoined to ease curfew hours, e.g. from midnight up to 4:00 a.m. The curfew implementation shall be guided by the respective local ordinance,” the joint document read.

“While still encouraging work-from-home arrangements and other flexible workplace plans, business establishments are enjoined to adopt multiple and staggered work shifts (workers are to be allowed to adopt work shift schedule starting at e.g., 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., and so on) to allow more workers to report to work but still maintaining the physical distancing requirements, to spread out the congestion on our roads, and to ease the demand for public transportation,” it also said.

Earlier, a survey by the Social Weather Stations found that only 44% of Filipinos believe government actions are adequate on ensuring the provision of adequate help for people who lost their livelihoods. SWS in an earlier survey also found that joblessness in the adult labor force was at a record-high 45.5% as of August this year.

According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the coronavirus crisis has also so far displaced around 3.5 million workers, including 1.9 million who were temporarily laid off while businesses were shuttered at the height of lockdowns from March to June.

The Joint Task Force COVID Shield, which serves as the quarantine enforcement arm of the coronavirus task force, announced on Thursday that it would be ordering more police on the streets of cities and towns as well as in business districts with the easing of quarantine restrictions.

In its latest case bulletin Sunday afternoon, the Department of Health added 2,223 new coronavirus cases, bringing the national caseload to 370,028.

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