THE expanded number of areas covered by Alert Level 3 will hinder the economic recovery, according to Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. A. Concepcion III.

Mr. Concepcion said during a Laging Handa briefing Friday that stricter quarantine protocols will slow the momentum of the country’s economic recovery, whether the quarantine setting is Alert Level 3 or 4.

“Siyempre, ma-affect yan kasi maski tinaas sa Alert Level 3 or Alert Level 4, mismong yung mga consumer ayaw lumabas. Ayaw kumain sa labas. Talagang matumal ang Negosyo (Of course, it will have effect. Whether it is Alert Level 3 or Alert Level 4, consumers themselves will not want to go out. They won’t want to dine out. It will really impact businesses),” Mr. Concepcion said.

On Friday, the President’s Acting Spokesman and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles announced that Metro Manila will remain under Alert Level 3 between Jan. 16 and Jan 31 amid a sharp increase in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

Other areas that will be under Alert Level 3 for the period include Baguio City, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Dagupan, Ilocos Sur, Rizal, Batangas, Cavite, and Laguna.

On Jan. 12, the government also placed 28 areas under Alert Level 3 between Jan. 14 and Jan. 31, such as Cagayan de Oro City, Davao City, Bacolod City, and Cebu City.

Mr. Concepcion said experts like Octa Research Group are expecting the COVID-19 surge to peak within a few weeks.

“We have seen it in other places. The COVID-19 cases peak and then it stabilizes and starts goes down. I’m optimistic by maybe the end of the month or I think in February, hopefully we should see in National Capital Region, eventually this (will be) moving lower now,” Mr. Concepcion said.

“But in the other areas, (COVID-19 cases) might surge since many individuals are still unvaccinated in provinces across the Visayas and Mindanao, and other parts of Luzon. We need to focus our vaccines in these areas,” he added. – Revin Mikhael D. Ochave