By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The local business sector in Bacolod City was caught completely off guard following the sudden declaration of the national government on Monday night to place the city under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) due to the sudden surge in Covid-19 infections.
Frank Carbon, executive director of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said based on the MECQ guidelines some businesses are allowed to open but there is no public transportation.
“When we woke up today (Tuesday) we were shocked,” Carbon said.
He said even their employees cannot report for work and while restaurants are open, they are only limited to deliveries.
“What’s worse is the MECQ is until September 30,” Carbon said.
He said that the national government has recognized that Covid-19 “is not just a health crisis but also a livelihood crisis.”
Many have already lost their jobs because they worry not only about their health but also about what to do everyday, he pointed out.
He added that 90 percent of those employed are using public transportation.
“We in the business sector want to know where is the transmission happening and how,” Carbon pointed out. “We believe that if the transmission is happening in just a few barangays in the city, [then] they should be the only ones on lockdown.”
He stated they are far more supportive of a granular lockdown approach.
He further added they will attend a consultation organized by the provincial government of Negros Occidental scheduled today.
Earlier on Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte approved a stricter lockdown for Bacolod following a recommendation made by the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. was presented to the President during a televised meeting.
Based on the Sept. 7 count of the Department of Health Region 6, there were a total of 1,151 active cases in the metro and 27 deaths.
On Monday alone, Bacolod recorded a total of 58 new confirmed CoviD-19 cases.
Bacolod City was under general community quarantine prior to its shift to MECQ.
Health secretary Francisco Duque III said the shift was recommended to IATF-EID by Environment secretary Roy Cimatu.
Cimatu, along with retired military officer Mel Feliciano, were recently tasked by President Duterte to help Bacolod City manage Covid-19 infections that were overwhelming hospitals.
“We strongly endorse the recommendation of (Cimatu and Feliciano) to escalate the community quarantine (in Bacolod City) to MECQ,” said Duque, who noted that Bacolod City now has more cases that Iligan City, which was earlier placed under MECQ.
“In Bacolod City, ‘yung four days po, nagkaroon sila ng total of 462 confirmed Covid-19 cases, nag-a-average sila ng 135 Covid-19 cases per day,” added Duque./DGB, WDJ