Cebu provincial board to IATF: Allow businesses to ‘self-regulate operations’

Lorraine Ecarma
Cebu provincial board to IATF: Allow businesses to ‘self-regulate operations’

CLOSED DOWN. A Cebu entertainment establishment forced to stop operations due to the lack of revenue brought by pandemic restrictions. Taken in Moalboal, Cebu in August 2020.

Lorraine Ecarma/Rappler

The Cebu provincial board says this would allow the businesses 'to revert to their former normal operations regardless of quarantine classification while strictly following the health protocols within their establishment'

The Cebu provincial board has asked the government’s coronavirus task force to allow businesses in the province to operate beyond the current capacity allowed under quarantine rules.

In passing a resolution authored by board member Glenn Soco, chairman of the committee on commerce and industry, on Monday, October 18, the provincial board cited the need to spur economic activity stalled by the pandemic.

In the resolution addressed to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, the provincial board asked the government body to allow restaurants, other food and beverages establishments, hotels, resorts, other accommodations establishments and outdoor tourism activities “to self-regulate their operations in order to revert to their former normal operations regardless of quarantine classification while strictly following the health protocols within their establishment.”

The resolution said such flexibility would help companies “secure the necessary compliance and permits in order to save their businesses, protect their investments, ensure livelihood for their workers, and ultimately, help revive the economy.”

Cebu is under general community quarantine until October 31. Under GCQ, commercial food establishments are operating at 20% indoor dining capacity and 50% outdoor or al fresco dining capacity. Meanwhile, accommodation establishments are limited to 30% capacity.

The resolution said these restrictions have forced multiple establishments to temporarily close down due to the twin blows of slashed incomes and a spike in expenses to comply with minimum safety requirements.

“Numerous businesses downsized their operations, closed several branches and even laid-off employees,” the resolution said.

Rappler asked Soco for data on the number of establishments closed down due to capacity limitations, and the total losses incurred all over Cebu Province. The board member said he was still gathering data from the business chambers and from the Department of Trade and Industry.

In lieu of the capacity limits, the board proposed a stricter monitoring of establishments’ compliance to COVID-19 health protocols.

“Should they opt to open to more customers/patrons, they must initiate to implement more safety designs and practices within their premises. They must be more responsible in addressing health concerns should the same arise, immediately resolve health and safety issues, vaccinate all their employees and strictly comply with the guidelines set by authorities,” said the resolution.

“In the event that violations arise, they may be sanctioned through penalties and even have their licenses/permits revoked, as the case may be,” it added.

Cebu was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) on August 1 along with the three independent cities of Lapu-lapu, Cebu, and Mandaue due to a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in the island. 

Malacañang later granted the provincial government’s appeal to downgrade to GCQ with heightened restrictions on the same day of the effectivity of MECQ.

In January to February 2021, the island saw a significant rise in cases, due in part to holiday gatherings.

Cebu started to contain the spread of  COVID-19 in late August. As of Monday, October 18, the Department of Health- Central Visayas reported a total of 1,032 active cases of COVID-29 in Cebu. The cumulative total cases recorded in the province stands at 36,572, while its recoveries stand at 33,192.

A total of 2,348 people died of COVID-19 in the province. –