Asia Minute: Easing Restrictions in Manila

Aug 19, 2020

The spread of COVID-19 continues to be uneven in different parts of the world. One location where the number of new cases continues to rise is the Philippines. But despite that trend, restrictions are being eased in the capital.

Starting today, people can once again use public transport in Manila and several other provinces in the Philippines. Restaurants are open for eat-in dining, shopping malls will be open — and so will churches.

They all face restrictions — churches at 30% capacity, for example, public transport will be limited, and so will store hours.

Two weeks ago, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte placed Manila and surrounding areas on a stricter lockdown. A presidential spokesman said advisers had an “intense debate” about whether to lift restrictions or extend them for another two weeks.

Duterte said, “we want to ensure the safety of our people, however some sectors in our economy . . . are barely surviving.”

A group of medical workers urging continued restrictions said, “We are faced with a choice not between the economy or public health but between a less or more costly disruption among ordinary Filipinos.”

The World Health Organization recommends that before re-opening an economy, the rate of positive tests should be at 5% or less for two weeks.

Rappler.com quotes government figures showing the rate of positive tests in metropolitan Manila over the past week is 17%.