Business group backs mobility ‘bubble’ for vaccinated

THE Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) wants government to allow more mobility for the fully vaccinated population amid quarantine restrictions.

The business group in a statement Wednesday said that it supports the “bakuna bubble” or areas where people vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can move freely.

“Granular lockdowns should be complemented with the ability of fully vaccinated workers and consumers to partially enjoy the fruits of community quarantine hardship,” MAP President Aurelio R. Montinola III said.

The easing of quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila has been deferred after the government announced that the region would remain under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until Sept. 15. This reverses the initial decision to implement granular or localized lockdowns instead of region-wide restrictions starting on Wednesday.

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. “Joey” A. Concepcion III has been advocating for the use of these “bubbles” for fully vaccinated people, gaining the support of various industry groups.

Mr. Montinola said the bubble would be appropriate for Metro Manila mayors and the needs of the capital region’s economy, noting that there should also be additional COVID-19 treatment capacity and contact tracing.

“We appeal to the (interagency taskforce on the coronavirus) to consider this new pilot proposal immediately. Otherwise, ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) may become known as the ‘Economy Casualty Quotient’ with positivity rate of increased poverty and hunger in the 20% to 50% range,” he said.

Just under 14% of the Philippine population has been vaccinated, the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker showed. Around 43% of the Metro Manila population eligible for the jab had been fully vaccinated by Aug. 22, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said.

The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention said coronavirus vaccines like those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, Inc. reduce the risk of hospitalization and death. Vaccinated people are also less likely to acquire COVID-19 or transmit it to others.

“However, the risk for (COVID-19) breakthrough infection in fully vaccinated people cannot be completely eliminated as long as there is continued community transmission of the virus,” the public health agency said. — Jenina P. Ibañez

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