Palace warns of economic deterioration sans eased age restriction

Failure to relax age restrictions for people who can leave their residences amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic may lead to “economic deterioration,” Malacañang cautioned Friday.

In a press statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has to allow people as young as 10 years old to go out in a bid to revive the country’s economy.

“This IATF decision likewise forms part of the overarching goal of reopening the economy, thus promoting recovery. Not easing restrictions may have (a) longer impact on jobs, income, poverty, and hunger, leading to further economic deterioration, as well as health issues,” Roque said.

The IATF-EID, in its Resolution 95 approved Thursday, eased the age restrictions in areas placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

Beginning February 1, people aged 10 years to 65 years can leave their homes for non-essential activities, such as going to malls.

The possible relaxation of age restrictions in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) is up to the local governments.

Defending the IATF-EID’s latest decision, Roque said the government needs to “balance both the re-opening of the economy and controlling the spread of the virus.”

Good for children’s health

He said allowing children to go out amid the pandemic is good for their health.

“Filipino children have already stayed in their homes for 10 months now and allowing those to leave their houses, especially on a weekend activity, is good for their physical, social, and mental health,” Roque said.

The government, he said, would ensure the strict implementation of health protocols for children who will step out of their homes.

“In addition, it has been observed that 10-year-old children have started to develop their cognitive skills of following instructions from adults. They are less frisky compared to younger children,” he said.

Different from face-to-face classes

Roque also explained that allowing school-age children to leave their homes is different from possibly letting them attend face-to-face classes.

He said the two scenarios differ in “nature, intensity, and proximity.”

“For one, physical distancing is difficult to implement in face-to-face classes given the size of classrooms vis-a-vis the number of students that are enrolled. Also, students attending face-to-face classes would have higher exposure to the virus given the intensity of interaction of children in school with their classmates,” Roque said.

It would be safer to go outside their homes for non-essential services than to attend face-to-face classes, he said, adding that outdoor activities, such as dining out or doing the groceries, would only take “fewer hours complemented with the observance of public health standards.”

“On the other hand, children who are allowed to go out on a weekend or during their free time (as online classes/ modular learning are ongoing) will be with their parents and/or relatives. It is family bonding and interaction is akin to a ‘family bubble’ since it is limited to family members – the same people they are with in their homes. Thus, it is safer,” Roque said. 

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