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Biz groups seek restrictions for unvaccinated

Several business and industry groups have called for mobility restrictions for unvaccinated individuals as they urge the government to boost its mass vaccination efforts.

In a joint statement, private sector groups said they “support the government's view that COVID-19 vaccination policies should be more robust in order to save more Filipinos from serious sickness and death and help the economy and jobs to recover.”

“While we also steadfastly believe that everyone has the right to decide on vaccination, we do believe that the state and the private sector should be able to restrict the activities of unvaccinated persons for the common good,” the group said.

Signatories in the joint statement are Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP), Cebu Business Club (CBC), Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), GoNegosyo, Investment Houses Association of the Philippines (IHAP), Makati Business Club (MBC), Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), Philippine Ecozones Association (PHILEA), Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), Philippine Retailers Association (PRA), Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA), US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC), and WomenBizPH.

Citing experts, the groups said the unvaccinated are more likely to get seriously sick “which would add to the strain on the healthcare system putting both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients at risk of not having access to medical treatment.”

“In addition, there is evidence that unvaccinated persons may be more dangerous carriers of the virus,” the groups said.

In the National Capital Region, which is currently under Alert Level 4, restaurants and personal care services are allowed to operate at 10% indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals while allowing the unvaccinated ones to avail of services outdoors at 30% seating capacity.

“We believe the state should help companies reopen safely to protect and create jobs by allowing them to impose stricter requirements on unvaccinated employees and patrons, and to decline unvaccinated job applicants, in the interest of the health and safety of both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated,” the groups said.

“Further, we believe the government should consider doing the same with its employees,” they said.

The private sector organizations, in particular, noted the review of the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Advisory 03-21, which states that “any employee who refuses or fails to be vaccinated shall not be discriminated against in terms of tenure, promotion, training, pay and other benefits or terminated from employment."

The groups also called for a review of Republic Act 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 and the COVID-19 Vaccine Procurement Act of 2021 (Sec 12-G).

“We encourage companies to exert every effort to provide opportunities for unvaccinated employees to get vaccinated, and do what they can to accommodate them (and others who cannot be vaccinated for valid medical reasons) in the interim, in a way that does not compromise their health and safety and that of other employees,” the groups said.

“We urge the government to further facilitate access to vaccines, whether through government or private sector procurement consistent with Philippine Government guidelines,” they added.—AOL, GMA News