AN ESTIMATED 8% of businesses remain closed due to the current easier quarantine settings, which represents an improvement over the level of operations seen during the strict phase of the lockdown in the capital and nearby regions, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said.

The percentage of closed businesses rose to 16% when the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was declared, he said at a virtual event on Wednesday.

After being placed under ECQ after a fresh surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections in March, lockdown restrictions on Metro Manila and nearby regions were gradually eased. The regions were placed under the more relaxed general community quarantine in mid-May.

Businesses were hardest hit after initial pandemic-related restrictions were rolled out last year. Several sectors were not allowed to operate on-site, while others saw their revenue decline as commercial foot traffic fell.

During the initial and strictest version of the lockdown in April and May last year, 38% of companies had shut.

The number of shuttered businesses had dropped to 4% by February 2021 as more businesses were allowed to reopen and economic activity rebounded.

Dito sa inaasahan nating patuloy na pagbubukas ay marami pa uling makakapagbukas na negosyo (Our anticipated business reopening should gain momentum) moving forward into June,” Mr. Lopez said.

He added that he is hoping that the GCQ (general community quarantine) will be extended in June, but the final decision will be announced by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases. — Jenina P. Ibañez