AT least 100,000 employees from restricted industries returned to work after the lowering of the Alert Level in Metro Manila last week, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said they were among the 1.8 million workers who were displaced, when the government placed the National Capital Region (NCR) under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) last August.
Most of the affected employees resumed their duties after the government started to pilot the Alert Level System (ALS) in the region in September.
Upon the launch of the ALS in NCR, it was initially placed under Alert Level 4, before it was downgraded to 3 on October 16, 2021 due to slowing down in the increase in Covid-19 cases in the region.
On November 5, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) decided to further lower the Alert Level in NCR to 2, the second lowest classification.
“Because of the lower alert level, we estimate more or less 100,000 were able to return to work,” Lopez said in a virtual press briefing on Monday.
He said the lower alert level was welcomed by many establishments in the entertainment, tourism, and wellness industries since it will allow them to increase their venue capacities.
“They will have a better Christmas this year compared to last year. So we hope there will no longer be any surge [in Covid-19 cases]. That is why it is important even for establishments to make sure their clients comply with minimum public health protocol,” Lopez said.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is also hopeful the Alert Level 2 in NCR will help provide employment to the 600,000 additional unemployed workers in the September round of the Labor Force Survey (LFS) of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
DOLE spokesperson Rolly Francia said the latest development will translate to a more “vibrant” Christmas celebration for more workers based in the region.
“Once we enter the new quarter of next year, more workers will be able to return to work and our economy will be more lively,” Francia said in a separate online briefing.