Now that Bohol has been classified as among the low-risk provinces in the Philippines, the tendency would be to reopen some non-essential establishments that can adapt to the new normal to cope with the global pandemic.
Low-risk provinces may opt to shift to general community quarantine from enhanced community quarantine.
However, Gov. Art Yap asks for a leeway of at least one week to reconcile the IATF resolutions and the preventive measures laid down in the executive orders of the provincial government.
What is made clear is that the suspension of inbound travel by air and sea is extended after April 30.
Since the general community quarantine will only be up to May 15, if it has to be coincided with the national prerogative, the governor and the medical advisers- -together with the business community- -will still have study what should be changes to be implemented from May 1 to May 15 and those that would take effect after May 15.
“I do not like to speculate tungod kay delikado pa. In Singapore, they relaxed. Then nibalik ang surge sa mga kaso. Right now, there is no indication nga sa Manila ug sa Cebu nag-stabilized na ang sitwasyon. Sa tinuod ra, sige pa ang pagsaka sa mga kaso. Mao nga until we know what happens, until that stabilizes, we cannot speculate what we will do in Bohol. Delikado,” Yap explained.
If it can be ascertained that the people are capable of the discipline required from them, some non-essential establishments that are have been closed as of now might be allowed to operate again.
However, the way the business establishments operate will no longer be the same as how it used to operate before Covid-19.
Yap suggested that the preventive measures must still be observed such as social distancing, cleanliness and sanitation, wearing of facemasks and implementation of curfew.
It is also a possibility that under the new normal, Bohol may be placed in quarantine for a period of time then a period to relax the protocols, then back to quarantine and relax again.
“Naay mga pila ka buwan morelax ta, naay pila ka buwan nga mobalik ta’g mo-quarantine ta. It depends. Mao nga ingon nako sa tanan, modepende na sa atong disiplina. Kung atong makita nga naa tay sistema, maayong disiplina dinhi sa Bohol, all our business are calibrated to cooperate under the new normal, then mas posible na ablihan na nato atong mga sectors. But if we cannot show that we have a working system, then there is no way that we can open up our economy. That’s impossible,” Yap explained.
The medical advisers are still finalizing the proposed protocols to be reconciled with the proposal also of the business community.
Initially, it was proposed that restaurants may just have to accept take out orders and that there would no longer be family seating to avoid a large number of people staying inside at a time.
“If we reopen the barber shops, the salons and wellness centers, I think it’s possible that we have new norms. That means we need to minimize the number of clients at a time. Maybe everybody will have to wear facemasks. Maybe the barbershops will be disinfecting their equipment, their scissors, and their combs,” Yap said.
There might also be some people who can start operating for the internet platforms to get clients.
It was also suggested that the transport sector may partner with restaurants to be the one to deliver the orders to customers who may just have to use a Smart phone app.
“We have to transition into the new normal which would be a minimum of two years because there will be no antedote, there will be no medicine available for Covid-19 within two years. So, in the next two years, if we want to reopen the business, how are we going to reopen business? We have to have the new normal,” Yap said.
There were also suggestions from the mayors that the senior citizens aged 65 and above may be given at least two days in a week to go out to transact at the banks.
“We cannot forever live in a bubble. We cannot bury our head in the sand. We need to be strong, united, courageous and realistic. We must live with the rules of the ‘new norm’. We must return to basics like agriculture and food security. We must protect our environment and stay clean and healthy. But I believe that it is the provinces that can live with the ‘new norm’, that will attract the investors and the business of tomorrow,” Yap said.
During the press conference last Friday, Yap pointed out that “as we end week 6 of Bohol’s community quarantine and week 4 of our enhanced community quarantine, Bohol remains Covid-free with PUMs down to 54. We have maintained this position not because we were relaxed in responding to the threat of Covid 19, but because we worked hard and we are willing to make hard choices in aggressively preventing a local outbreak in Bohol”.