THE Cebu City version of “bakuna bubble” is one of the measures being considered as a safe way to reopen the majority of the businesses in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Vice Mayor Michael Rama presented the city’s bakuna bubble, an initiative under Executive Order (EO) No. 142, before Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion during the “Public-Private Dialogue on Safe Ways to Open the Economy in the Age of Community Quarantines,” which was held virtually on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021.
The bakuna or vaccine bubble refers to the privileges given to the vaccinated individuals in Cebu City such as allowing them to dine indoors, access to services in salons and spas, and entry to indoor sports venues and indoor tourist attractions.
Rama first issued EO No. 137 on Sept. 2, allowing vaccinated individuals to dine-in. It was then followed by EO No. 142, which gave more privileges to the vaccinated ones.
Some business leaders support the bakuna bubble, hoping that the national government, through the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, would approve the nationwide implementation of such a measure.
In an interview, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam said the Cebu City bakuna bubble model is now being taken into consideration by Concepcion.
“The economy has to move and many are depending on businesses to open,” he said.
During the forum, Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said the bakuna bubble could be implemented in areas with a high Covid-19 vaccination rate like in Metro Manila, which is now nearing 78 percent of its target individuals for vaccination.
He said the implementation of the bakuna bubble outside Metro Manila would be difficult as the percentage of vaccinated individuals only plays below 40 percent.
“We will start moving forward on how to accommodate the vaccinated by not discriminating against the unvaccinated,” Año said, adding that “many are still unvaccinated and it’s not their choice” but because of the low supply of vaccines.
Año said the technical working group of the IATF has been tasked to study the feasibility of the bakuna bubble.
Rama said coming up with the bakuna bubble measure did not happen overnight, adding this was first thought of in July when more individuals got vaccinated in the city.
As of Sept. 12, there have been 306,367 individuals who received the first dose, or 43.8 percent out of the target population which is 700,000.
There were also 191,524 individuals who were fully vaccinated, or 27.4 out of the target population.
Rama said the city’s bakuna bubble does not aim to discriminate against anybody. Rather, it is one measure to “fight the virus,” he said.
Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, deputy chief implementer of the Emergency Operations Center, said the City Government has to be innovative in measures to fight the pandemic.
Garganera said the people have to live with Covid-19, and one way to do that is by adopting the bakuna bubble, which would motivate the people to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated would also make the people working in business establishments, as well as their regular customers, feel comfortable and safe.
CDO Foodsphere Inc. president and chief executive officer Jerome Ong said the implementation of the bakuna bubble is not only about giving perks to the vaccinated individuals, it also means allowing businesses to operate.
“It’s a reiteration of everyone’s call to allow this (vaccine bubble). Hope this vaccine bubble plan will be approved and allow all the grounded sectors to reopen,” said Ong.
Ong said the implementation of the bakuna bubble is the “key element in reopening businesses.”
Director General of the International Chamber of Commerce Philippines Jess Varela said the vaccine bubble is the “best alternative” to the usual lockdown being implemented by the government.
Varela said this gives the establishment owners an option whether to continue their operation or not. (with JOB)