Restaurateurs, Barbers Reel as Philippines Flipflops on Curbs
(Bloomberg) -- Eric Teng was preparing to welcome his restaurants’ first dine-in customers in weeks on Wednesday when the Philippine government suddenly backtracked on its decision to ease virus curbs.
“It’s unacceptable, but we have to live by these overnight declarations,” said Teng, who runs a group of restaurants including Mango Tree and Cocina Peruvia in Manila. “That’s a live-or-die statement for us. Like any business, we need as much stability as possible, not these abrupt statements, abrupt directives.”
The Philippine government announced its latest decision Tuesday evening, one day after saying curbs would be loosened in the capital region. That loosening would have allowed retail shops to fully reopen and restaurants and beauty salons to operate at limited capacity.
A week of the movement restrictions currently in place in Manila and nearby areas has an economic impact of 74 billion pesos ($1.5 billion), Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua told lawmakers Wednesday. An index from Oxford Economics shows pandemic restrictions in the Philippines are among the most stringent in Asia.
Teng’s disappointment is shared by thousands of business owners and workers affected by strict lockdowns as the Philippines battles a wave of Covid-19 cases triggered by the delta variant. Elsewhere in Asia, governments from Singapore to New Zealand have in some cases reversed decisions to loosen restrictions when facing local virus flareups.
Boyet Agaton, a 51-year-old barber, was among those eagerly awaiting the time when he could resume his job. He thoroughly cleaned his scissors and tools Tuesday in anticipation of working again at Bruno’s Barbers.
“I’m so dismayed,” Agaton said. “When there’s no work, there’s no pay.”
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