TRADE SECRETARY Ramon M. Lopez said he supports allowing most businesses to open regardless of alert level, restricting only their capacity levels when infections surge.

Speaking on ANC News Thursday, he said his proposed lockdown rule change would promote business continuity and avoid an “open-close-open” cycle of operations.

“The idea is really just to reduce operating capacity every time we reach alert level 4,” he said.

The alert level system determines the lockdown restrictions implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with level 1 being the least strict.

Alert level 4 implemented in Metro Manila since Sept. 16 bans indoor sports events, gyms, amusement parks, and indoor entertainment venues from operating.

“Since it may be too early to change these percentages, what can be done is to recognize the Safety Seal system also in (alert level) 4, so we can add 10 percentage points,” Mr. Lopez told reporters in a Viber message.

This means that he is proposing that businesses that obtain government safety seals — stickers displayed at establishment entry points if they comply with health and safety protocols — be allowed to increase capacity by 10%.

“So the good approach is to have continuity in operations and jobs, regardless of (alert) level.  Changes only in operating capacity,” he said.

He added that there could still be a list of businesses excluded from being allowed to open, although this would be a shorter list consisting of “high risk non-essentials.”

Mr. Lopez has been supporting the resumption of some gym operations when alert level 4 is raised.

“We’ve been arguing that exercise is really one vital activity for anyone to increase immunity levels,” he told ANC. — Jenina P. Ibañez