Philippines Keeps Metro Manila’s Curbs, Deferring Easing
(Bloomberg) -- Philippine authorities have deferred easing restrictions on public movement in the capital region, keeping the current curbs potentially through Sept. 15, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Tuesday.
Metro Manila, an area that accounts for about a third of the Philippine economy, will remain under the second-toughest restrictions on movement -- called “modified enhanced community quarantine” -- Roque said in a statement. Restaurants are limited to take-away and delivery business, and beauty salons and spas are shut, he said.
The current condition will be kept until Sept. 15, or sooner, if a pilot program that features targeted lockdowns in specific hotspots gets under way before then, according to the statement.
The economic impact of a week of second-strictest movement restrictions in the capital and nearby areas is 74 billion pesos ($1.5 billion), Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua told lawmakers on Wednesday. Gross domestic product will recover to pre-pandemic level by end 2022 or early 2023, he said.
The announcement is a retreat from a planned loosening of restrictions and a shift to targeted lockdowns in the capital region, which was supposed to start on Sept. 8.
The peso weakened for a fourth day, losing as much as 0.3% against the dollar early Wednesday. The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index declined as much as 0.7%, among the biggest drops in Asia, before trading 0.5% higher at the 1 p.m. close.
Daily cases in the Philippines have been increasing by near records in recent days, bringing the total to more than 2.1 million as of Tuesday.
Strict lockdowns have destroyed jobs and damped consumption. The government last month cut the economic growth outlook for this year after tighter restrictions, including in the capital region, were imposed due to the delta variant.
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