"There is never a middle ground when it comes to the health of the people."
There is sound judgment in the injunction of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire as regards the “collegial decision” of government officials to reopen leisure businesses, like cinemas, in places under the General Community Quarantine or GCQ, two rungs lower than the Enhanced Community Quarantine.
The government has announced that it would allow, as from today, February 15, the reopening of cinemas, arcades and leisure businesses—at a time when we should slowly be making forward steps to a return to the old normal before the lockdown in March 2020.
There are of course measures the people are reminded of, by particularly the OCTA research group, that certain minimum health protocols will still have to be implemented in the opened sectors during the coronavirus pandemic like open ventilation, people should wear face masks and face shields as well as physical distancing.
But like Secretary Vergeire told the Laging Handa public briefing last weekend, while others are starting to reopen for the domestic economy, there is still an urgent need to comply with minimum health protocols and stay away from indulging in self-congratulations with the government move to reopen these establishments.
Fact is, the movie houses are not even, as it were, essential for leisure for the population, mainly because there are streaming services now more accessible for people’s entertainment.
Any unfortified blitz to these houses, arcades and the like—on the pretext of priming the economy—is greatly gratuitous at this point, when the infections and deaths ledgers continue to have added on statistics daily.
Several hours before we go off stone, cases of infections in the Philippines have reached 549,176 (against the world’s 107,838,255) and deaths 11,515 (2,373,398). And the cases continue to rise.
Which points to the need for calmness and watchfulness. There is a need to balance the requirements of a newly reopened domestic economy and the supreme prerequisite for the health of the general population.
This argument gains added density, given that a new variant of the unforgiving coronavirus strain has entered the Philippines, not to mention that leaders of local government units in the National Capital Region are opposed to the “collegial decision” to reopen these establishments.
Their opposition, from where we are, makes perfect sense.
There is never a middle ground when it comes to the health of the people, even while coronavirus vaccines may be gearing up for some rollout in the latter part of the quarter.