NEW PCCI OFFICERS. Newly sworn-in officials of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry pay a virtual courtesy call on Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez (right) on Thursday (Jan. 6, 2022). PCCI president George Barcelon (left) was assured by Lopez (right) there will no longer be hard lockdowns. (Photo courtesy of PCCI)

MANILA – There will no longer be hard lockdowns amid the spike in cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), made worse by the more transmissible Omicron variant.

In a statement Friday, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said they were assured by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) officials that the government will not implement massive lockdowns anymore.

Instead, restrictions will be focused on the unvaccinated.

Newly elected PCCI officials paid a virtual courtesy call on DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez and other trade officials on Thursday.

George Barcelon was elected PCCI president anew after his previous term in 2015.

Other elected PCCI officials that joined the courtesy visit were architect Felino Palafox, vice president; engineer Eunina Mangio, vice president; Perry Ferrer, vice president; Sergio Ortiz-Luis, director and treasurer; Samie Lim, director; Alfredo Yao, director; Alegria Sibal Limjoco, former president and chair; Dr. Alberto Fenix and Edgardo Lacson, past presidents; Sallie Lacson, area vice president for South Luzon; Tess Ngan Tian, area vice president for NCR; and Ruben Pascual, secretary general.

The other DTI officials in the meeting were Undersecretaries Ceferino Rodolfo, Rafaelita Aldaba, Blessy Lantayona, and Ireneo Vizmonte, and Assistant Secretary Allan Gepty.

“We are happy that the government is no longer imposing hard lockdowns as a safeguard measure against increasing Omicron cases. Otherwise, it would be difficult again for our economy to recover if businesses will be shut down,” Barcelon said.

He also extended the request of the largest business group for inclusion in the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases so they can properly relay the issues and recommendations of the sector.

During the meeting, Lopez said the high level of vaccination rate and the medical treatment already available have led to easing some protocols for vaccinated instead of implementing a total lockdown.

He added that the “no vax, no labas (going out)” policy could be expanded nationwide.

The IATF may also allow the use of home antigen testing to add another layer of protection as the asymptomatic can detect if they are positive for the virus. (PNA)