Philippine business leaders back lockdown in ‘ghost month’ August

Ralf Rivas

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Philippine business leaders back lockdown in ‘ghost month’ August

VACCINATION LINE. Manila residents queue under the rain as they wait to receive their COVID-19 jab outside the San Andres Sports Complex in Manila.


Business leaders say the 'ghost month' may be the best time to impose a hard lockdown, in order to protect earnings in the fourth quarter, when consumer spending is expected to pick up

Business leaders back proposals to impose a hard lockdown in August, also dubbed “ghost month,” as health experts and mathematicians cite the rising number of people contracting the Delta variant of COVID-19.

In a forum on Wednesday, July 28, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Exporters Confederation of the Philippines, and Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry said the government can implement a two-week strict lockdown in August to “decisively contain the spread of the more contagious Delta variant.”

The proposal is also backed by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, who said August would be the best time to implement such a harsh measure.

Concepcion noted that August is usually the time when businesses wind down due to bad weather.

The Chinese also call August “ghost month,” where business deals are avoided.

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Concepcion also said locking down the economy again during August may help protect earnings in the fourth quarter, when consumer spending is historically up.

“Consumers spend for Christmas during this time (fourth quarter), and I think election spending will come during that time. It will also spell the difference what will 2022 be,” he said.

“If we have to do it, let’s do it and let’s prepare for it. We’re saving the lives of the unvaccinated.”

Octa Research fellow Ranjit Rye said virus epicenter Metro Manila is “officially in a surge,” noting the increase in the reproduction number (R) from 0.6 in June to 1.33 in July. R is the number of people that one COVID-19 case can infect.

Experts have said the goal is to keep R below 1 to contain COVID-19 transmission. An R above 1 means that the virus is spreading faster.

A similar type of lockdown was implemented in Singapore in April 2020 to contain the spread of COVID-19. It was a tight set of restrictions meant to “reverse the tide of the epidemic.”

Octa previously suggested a circuit-breaker lockdown in March, when cases in the country started to spike again. At the time, the group proposed placing the capital region under this type of lockdown.

Enhanced community quarantine is the strictest form of lockdown where only a fixed number of people per household are allowed to leave the home for essential tasks or for work in essential services.

The Philippines now has 119 known cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant. But there are concerns that the actual number may be far higher, as the Philippine Genome Center is only sequencing a small percentage of the positive cases.

The Delta variant, which was first detected in India, is ravaging Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.

To prevent further local transmission of the Delta variant, the Philippine government has imposed travel bans on countries where it is widespread. –

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.