MANILA, Feb 8 (Mabuhay) — Up to 200,000 workers are expected to return to the labor force amid the descent of the restrictions in Metro Manila to Alert Level 2, a spokesperson of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Monday.

According to DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo, the return of the workers will reflect the additional 20% capacity allowed for businesses — indoor establishments to 50% from 30%, and outdoor establishments to 70% from 50%.

“According to DTI estimates, we have around 100,000 to 200,000 jobs na makakabalik [that will return],” she said during the Laging Handa virtual briefing.

Castelo said based on the estimates of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), some 15,000 workers are expected to return to the labor force on a weekly basis.

The latest data available from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that there were 3.16 million unemployed Filipinos in November 2021. Metro Manila was under Alert Level 2 from November 5, 2021 and was upgraded to Alert Level 3 on January 3, 2022.

The National Capital Region and several other areas were placed back under the Alert Level 2 from February 1 to February 15, given the decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

In the same briefing, Castelo said any proposals to remove the country’s Alert Level System should be done on a gradual basis to ensure that the public still adheres to minimum public health standards.

“Dahan dahan lang until masanay na tayo at ma-accept na natin na ‘yung new normal natin ay kasama na ‘yung mga health protocols,” she said.

Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Jose Ma “Joey” Concepcion III last month suggested the gradual removal of quarantine restrictions should COVID-19 cases caused by the highly transmissible Omicron variant subside. (MNS)

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