President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over the 53rd Cabinet Meeting at the Malacañan Palace on March 3, 2021.
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday that he will “immediately” ease all restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 once vaccines for the respiratory disease become widely available.
“If I see most of the citizens can avail of the vaccine in any of the health centers, hospitals … then I will reopen everything in our economy,” Duterte said partly in Filipino in a speech at the inauguration of school buildings in Valenzuela City.
It is not clear, however, when this target will be reached. As it stands, the government eyes the “massive rollout” of COVID-19 vaccines in the third quarter of this year, but even then only up to 25 million Filipinos would get the jabs, far below the target of inoculating 50 million to 70 million Filipinos.
By Duterte’s own estimate, the country would not return to normal until “maybe first or second quarter of year … 2023.”
The government’s own pandemic task force has recommended that the entire country shift to the laxest quarantine regime, only for Duterte to reject this due to the lack of a wider vaccine rollout.
Duterte, however, has indicated he is ready to place the country under modified general community quarantine once the country gets an adequate supply of COVID-19 vaccines — Xave Gregorio
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