The city government and the private sector here have initiated complementary initiatives to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) on the local economy while preventing the deadly disease from infecting more residents.
When the community quarantine started right after the national health emergency declaration in March, the business sector immediately volunteered assistance to help the local government manage the contagion.
For instance, inns and hotel operators offered to host Covid-19 front-liners and Business Process Outsourcing workers who were at risk of losing their rented dormitories as fear of the disease grew among the population.
Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) president John Carlo Tria said the generosity of the inn and hotel owners “meant so much to the nurses and BPO workers” as it gave them roofs over their heads while enabling them to continue their work.
“Their (accommodation facilities) kindness ease the feeling of discrimination facing the front liners who up to this day are gambling their lives against COVID-19 to save other people’s lives,” Tria said in an interview early this week.
Some of the accommodation facilities that opened their doors to nurses and BPO workers are Davao Airport View, Circle-B Suites, Chateau Cinco Dormitel, D’Airbus Inn, Yellow Pad, Sharana Pensionne, Capital O World Palace, Blue Lotus Hotel, and Oh George.
Dr. Roy Ferrer, Department of Health assistant secretary, said front-liners need “moral support to remain strong as they are most vulnerable to contamination with Covid-19 positive patients just in front of their noses.”
Blue Lotus Hotel communications officer Arra Amatong said the hotel decided to offer nurses and BPO workers with accommodation during the height of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and General Community Quarantine (GCQ) at heavily discounted rates.
“It is our way of helping the front-liners ease their predicaments on where to temporarily stay during the quarantine period,” Amatong said.
Patient care centers
A number of businesses, meanwhile, even went further by turning their establishments into patient care centers that house persons identified by health authorities as probable and suspect Covid-19 cases. These establishments include La Vida Inn, the Alternative Learning School (ALS), and Queensland Hotel.
In several interviews, Mayor Sara Duterte thanked the businesses that voluntarily offered to house Covid-19 patients, saying it helped eased the capacity of hospitals—especially the Southern Philippines Medical Center, the main referral facility of Covid-19 patients in Davao Region, where severe cases are primarily treated.
Isolating the probable and suspect cases, Mayor Sara said, also helped prevent the spread of the virus.
The patient care centers, she pointed out, are staffed with medical practitioners and volunteers, and on average can accommodate 20 people.
“There are PUIs (persons under investigation for Covid-19) who insist on staying in hospitals. I think that as a PUI, if you are not sure that you are positive of Covid-19 but you exhibit symptoms, you are better off in the PUI centers than in the hospitals, which have patients with positive cases,” the mayor said in one of the meetings with the local task force on Covid-19 in May.
Incentives for businesses
As way of acknowledging the contributions of the private sector in the city’s Covid-19 response, as well alleviate the impact of the health crisis on local businesses, the City Council passed at least three ordinances that gave various incentives for businesses.
Councilor Danny Dayanghirang, chair of the City Council committee on finance, ways and means, said the incentives aim to help struggling businesses get on their feet again.
The incentives include tax payment extensions, installment schemes, waived interests, penalties, and surcharges, and conditional tax relief.
“Like a family, we have to support each other especially in times of unexpected crisis like this,” Dayanghirang said.
Tria said the business sector will continue to coordinate with the city government to help various sectors restart their businesses, especially the agriculture industry.
Tria underscored the importance of “continued collaboration” as the local economy transitions to the “new normal”.
“We have been coordinating with the city government with regards to helping our various sectors especially agriculture and farms. With the entry to MGCQ (modified general community quarantine), public transport is back, our discussions with the various industry sectors are continuous so that we can find ways for them to recover,” the local business leader said.
He also expressed gratitude to Mayor Sara and the members of the City Council for the incentives and other reliefs granted to the business sector, saying the measures were important in revving the local economy back to life again.
“The City Council measures waiving penalties for rentals, payments, taxes, and permit fees falling due during quarantine periods and for incentives are a big help to businesses especially those that had flat sales,” Tria said. (PNA)