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DTI vows aid amid halt to relax age limit

The Department of Trade and Industry assured continued support for entrepreneurs to help their businesses thrive and survive amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

In a message to reporters yesterday, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said the IATF will “follow the wisdom of our President”.

This came after President Rodrigo Duterte recalled the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to allow people aged 10 to 14 years old to go outside their residences in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) starting Feb. 1.

Lopez said Duterte asked the IATF to further observe the situation as the UK SARS-CoV-2 variant is already present in the country.

“He asks us to study further the new variant because it might spread and the blame might be put on the easing of age restriction,” he said.

Lopez added that the IATF can implement the adjustment in age restriction once they can control the spread of the new Covid-19 variant.

“(We) will continue with the current support programs under Bayanihan 2 and support to MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) and job generation,” Lopez said.

He added that strict compliance with minimum health standards should continue while improving Covid-19-proofing of establishments to enhance consumer confidence.

The DTI and the National Economic and Development Authority recommended the easing of age restrictions from 15 to 65 years old to 10 to 65 years old to allow more economic activities, particularly spending from family activities such as shopping and dining.

Lopez earlier mentioned that family expenditure accounts for 30 to 50 percent of sales in commercial areas, adding that this would help businesses to improve their sales and prevent them from shutting down their operations.

“The President ultimately decides on matters under the jurisdiction of IATF because IATF is just an extension of the President. So there is no issue there. Whatever the President has decided prevails,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual presser yesterday.

Children as young as five and 10 years old are among the patients who acquired the new Covid-19 variant in Bontoc, Mountain Province.

Twelve cases of B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 variant or the United Kingdom (UK) variant have been recorded in Bontoc, making it the area with highest number of confirmed cases of the new variant.

Three of the 12 patients are children aged five, six, and 10.

While the country has no “enough” information about the UK variant, children must stay home, Roque said.

He said he is confident that the public would understand Duterte’s decision. “I think the public would understand the President’s decision because we don’t know enough about this new variant,” he said.*PNA

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