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At least 92 Cebu City businesses to close down due to losses from COVID-19 restrictions

By: Ador Vincent Mayol - Philippine Daily Inquirer | July 28,2020 - 01:53 PM

CEBU CITY –– At least 92 traders here have expressed their intent to shut down businesses due to losses incurred while strict restrictions were implemented by the government to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Felix Taguiam, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), said these businessmen have notified him about their plans but he appealed to them to hang on.

“I respect what’s on their mind. I can’t even stop them if they really want to cease operations. But I want them to stay. I told them not to surrender right away and to keep trying. We have to try our best, especially during these trying times,” he told the Inquirer.

Taguiam said these traders have been struggling even before the start of the pandemic. When COVID-19 devastated Cebu City’s economy, their businesses hit rock bottom.

The CCCI head begged off from giving specifics about the nature of businesses severely affected by the restrictions, saying he promised to protect their privacy.

Taguiam said they hoped that government leaders would downgrade Cebu City’s status from modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) to general community quarantine (GCQ) by August 1.

Under a GCQ, several businesses would be allowed to reopen, public transportation can resume operations, while movements of people are less restrictive.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who was appointed by President Duterte to oversee the government response to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Cebu province and city, last week said he would request the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to relax the quarantine measures in Cebu City following a downtrend in the number of coronavirus cases.

Taguiam said Cebu businessmen promised to strictly adhere to the health protocols for employees and customers to contain the spread of the virus.

“We need to redo and restart. Businesses are now more health-conscious and I believe we are better equipped this time,” he said.

When the city was placed under GCQ last June 1, many Cebuanos violated the measures, such as wearing face masks and observance of physical distancing, which may have led to a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.

Concerns over the city’s capability to provide critical healthcare to patients as well as the continued rise of COVID-19 prompted President Duterte to place the Queen City of the South back to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on June 16.

“We have learned our lesson already. We have to remember what happened after June 1 so we need to take extra precautions to avoid a repeat of what happened,” Taguiam said.

He reiterated the need to relax the quarantine measures to revive the struggling economy.

“This virus does not choose anyone. (But) we have to live with it. Unless and until there’s a vaccine, our problem would not be solved. It’s very important to reopen our economic activities now,” Taguiam said.

To businessmen who want to quit, he said “Please wait for August 1. From there, let’s see what happens. Try and try. Don’t quit right away.”

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