MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he may soon ease restrictions to contain the coronavirus outbreak, a move that his spokesman said will be considered after the lockdown ends in mid-May.
"While others are still on lockdown, we might open partially," Mr Duterte said in a televised address on Monday (April 27) night, without specifying a timeline.
The lockdown, which the Philippine leader said helped cushion the economy from the pandemic's impact, will only be modified, as totally lifting it may cause more infections. The government plans to allow construction and other sectors to gradually restart, making sure that social distancing remains in effect including in the capital's congested railways.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque on Tuesday said Mr Duterte is open to eventually loosening the lockdown on the capital and nearby areas, but not before May 15. The president was referring to the lifting of restrictions in parts of the main Luzon island when he spoke about partial reopening, Mr Roque said in a mobile-phone message.
The Philippine economy may shrink 0.2 per cent this year before bouncing back to a 7.7 per cent growth in 2021 as support measures "gain traction", central bank Governor Benjamin Diokno said over the weekend. Some 1.2 trillion pesos (S$33 billion) have been lined up by the government to fight the outbreak, including central bank measures and loans from multilateral lenders.