The strict implementation of the Luzonwide lockdown from March 17, 2020 to May 15, 2020 fundamentally caused the stoppage of economic activities among most of the sectors in most parts of the country. The lockdown was primarily aimed at controlling the spread of the Corona Virus Disease (COVID) 2019 to buy time for the government to put in place the appropriate health care measures to handle the cases. At the most, the lockdown was able to work in favour of the strategy of the government to reduce the reproduction of the cases and for the concerned agencies to be establish the required health care and isolation facilities in partnership with the private sector.
While the government was working on ways to effectively and efficiently handle the situation, many people, locally and overseas, started losing their jobs because a significant number of businesses, except for essential ones, were shutting down their operations. Many also lost their sources of livelihood due to the significant decline in economic activities. Truly, the world was in a bizarre situation as all the economies were badly hit and awaiting the time to be able to start the path to recovery and restore the employment of the displaced workers and bring back the vibrance of the economy.
The downgrading of the community quarantine status in most areas of the country resulted to the sudden surge in the number of COVID cases in identified epicentres that compelled the government to selectively impose restrictions in identified red zones, and in other areas, guidelines were relaxed to allow the slow, sure and safe revival of the economy that went hurting for over six months now. Some of the businesses, especially the essential ones, that operated during the lockdown and the community quarantine periods did not actually earn their projected income because of the stringent restrictions on the movement of people. What they raised were simply sufficient to sustain their operations. This provided employment to a few of their workers while most of their workforce were requested to go on temporary leave.
Health experts and government admit that people should already learn to live with the virus as it is obviously here to stay in the meantime that there are no medicines and vaccines developed to prevent its spread or even to bring cure. What is important is for people who are always outside their residences to adhere to the prescribed health and safety protocols, such as the mandatory wearing of face masks and shields, the observance of physical distancing at all times and the practice of personal hygiene, aside from putting appropriate sanitation booths in their respective establishments both private and public.
Several businesses were able to start their operations on a modified scheme but with no income of most people who would otherwise patronize said establishments, this prevents these businesses from recovering from the onslaught of the global pandemic. Even the grant of financial assistance to micro, small and medium entrepreneurs to allow them to recover from the serious negative effect of the pandemic is actually not being patronized as businessmen prefer to totally stop their operations and look for other better opportunities that will give then better returns.
We really sympathize with the businesses that had been heavily impacted by the prevalence of the deadly virus in our midst. What is needed is to closely study what is actually needed in times of epidemics like this COVID-19 pandemic and innovate current business models to cope with the restrictions of open unfettered commerce.
We cannot afford to be relying on the government and the private sector for support. There will come a time that individuals and companies donating cash and in kind assistance will experience donor fatigue, thus, businesses should now be proactive when starting their operations. The ultimate goal is for businesses to be able to fuel back the economy not to its status prior to the onslaught of the virus but to at least a level that will bring back the confidence of the people on themselves that there is still light at the end of the tunnel.
Let us not be expect that assistance will always be there until the future. We should bank on the opportunity being provided by the present situation for businesses to thrive. Evidently, people are now realizing that they must now wake up to the reality that something must be done for their businesses to start and not take their sweet time that things will normalize.
What is important at this point is for the government to be lenient on the implementation of prevailing regulations and for businesses to start moving forward to create a critical mass that can create a break that will spark the economy towards greater heights while the established health and safety protocols shall become the new normal.