The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) sees the shift to granular lockdowns coupled with speedier mass vaccination reviving the jobs shed amid the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the new system, the government will impose more stringent restrictions on areas and establishments deemed high risk, while keeping low-risk areas and sectors open. Granular lockdowns for high-risk areas will cover streets, buildings and houses. Establishments will be allowed to operate following the 3Cs framework—closed spaces, crowds and close contact activity, the state planning agency said in a report.
Neda said this new quarantine policy, which would be piloted in Metro Manila before its nationwide implementation, "aims to bring back jobs lost due to blanket restrictions."
The latest government data showed that the unemployment rate eased to 6.9 percent in July, the lowest since the pandemic struck in April 2020, but still above prepandemic levels.
But the decline in the jobless rate at the start of the third quarter was partly a result of fewer Filipinos active in the labor market due to fears of getting infected with COVID-19's more transmissible Delta variant.
The Philippines' unemployment rate in July was the second highest in emerging Asia, after India's 9.7 percent during the April to June period, Neda data showed.
"The country's unemployment rate continues to be relatively high compared to major Asian emerging economies, except for India, which experienced a massive surge of COVID-19 cases in recent months," Neda noted.
Neda said the policy shift in the country's quarantines needed to be "complemented by better implementation of the prevent, detect, isolate, treat and reintegrate + vaccinate strategy, which will help curb the spread of the virus and ensure that people can continue reporting to work safely."
"Establishments are likewise encouraged to innovate and adopt digital solutions to ensure business continuity," Neda added.
Mass inoculation will also play a key role in economic recovery—Neda noted that as of Sept. 5, "more than a quarter of the targeted population of essential economic workers have received at least one dose" of COVID-19 vaccines.
Ramping up jabs "will help build consumer and business confidence, translating to increased employment and income opportunities," Neda said.
The economic team had been pushing for a faster rollout of the nationwide mass vaccination program to resume consumer confidence and spending—a prime mover of the prepandemic economy. INQ
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