Italy eases restrictions after fewest daily deaths from COVID-19 reported

UNTV News   •   May 4, 2020   •   542

Italy has started easing its restrictions since Monday in its second phase of returning to normal life, as the country on Sunday reported 174 new deaths from COVID-19, the fewest since the lockdowns began nearly two months ago.

At the news, many Italians seem relieved, while others are nervous about the future. Under phase 2, relatives can reunite in small groups. For Silvia Poletto’s three kids, it has been a two-month wait but now they will reunite with their grandma in the countryside.

“It will be amazing because they will have open air and their grandmother all at once. So, I’m really emotional about that, I can’t wait for it,” said Poletto.

Parks will reopen and residents will be allowed outside. For Poletto’s husband Maurizio Levante, he admitted it was a big step after two months inside.

“Compared to the past, it’s nothing but now it’s a lot. I think we will appreciate a lot, much more than before the freedom,” said Levante.

“I am a bit even scared about this, it won’t be a normal life, it will be a different life. I think for everybody,” said Poletto.

During phase 2, manufacturing and construction will also start again.

“It will be difficult the first day, the first week to adapt to the new measures, we will still feel this lockdown in the weeks ahead because we haven’t worked and the costs have remained,” said Nicola Rapino, who owns a construction company based in Pescara.

Upon construction resumptions, those sites have to adhere to work-safe measures, such as temperature checks, masks, gloves and social distancing.

Another sector set to restart is the auto industry, but car dealerships are apprehensive that there will not be any customers. Francesco Barbuscia is the owner of the car dealership Barbuscia Auto S.r.l. , which has been in his family for 100 years. He feared that many in the business will have no choice but to close and this has been the most difficult period his company has ever experienced.

“There’s a mix of excitement and fear because the question is who will come when we reopen to buy a car. This is a game changer for all of us, and certainly for the automotive dealerships,” said Barbuscia.

“In 2009, the market dropped down after the financial crisis of 23 percent and less than a half survived that crisis. Now we’re looking at figures of minus 30 percent; so, many of us will not survive,” he added.

It is a sentiment shared by those businesses who have to wait another month to open, such as hairdressers, beauticians and restaurants. But the government said a slow and staged reopening is the only way Italy can move forward.

As of Sunday, Italy has reported a total of 209,328 COVID-19 cases, with 79,914 recovered, and 28,710 deaths, according to the Italian Ministry of Health. (Reuters)

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Local airlines to increase number of flights this holiday season

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Local airlines are preparing to add more flights as more passengers are expected to travel this holiday season just as quarantine restrictions ease.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said the easing of quarantine restrictions can help the airline industry recover from the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“The good news is the Balikbayan Program. This is the easing of travel requirements for balikbayans to entice them to return to the Philippines,” she said.

Villaluna said they are also coordinating with local government units to make sure the minimum health standards are still being implemented.

Local airlines have already partnered with private laboratories for more affordable and faster swab testing of passengers. For PAL and Air Asia, the RT-PCR testing in their accredited diagnostic lab costs P4,000.

Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific launched a “test before boarding” policy which requires passengers to undergo an antigen testing before boarding. The testing in Cebu Pacific is free from December 3 to December 14 but it is only exclusive to passengers en route to General Santos City.

“This is an initiative where we are closely working with the LGU in coming up with this process wherein passengers are required to take an antigen test no more than five hours before their departure time and then the results will come out in 30 minutes,” according to Candice Iyog, vice president for Marketing and Customer Experience of Cebu Pacific.

Local airlines advise passengers to refer to their respective websites for the essential requirements before boarding their flights. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

Duterte to attend virtual UN General Assembly on COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to participate in the 31st Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic from December 3 to 4, Malacañang said Thursday.

The Palace said Duterte is expected to deliver the Philippine Statement on December 3, where he will further amplify his call for global solidarity in addressing the challenges posed by the COVID-19.

The president is also expected to raise universal access to the anti-COVID-19 technologies, as well as the need for global efforts to ensure the availability of safe and effective vaccines to peoples of developing nations.

During the 75th UNGA session last September, Duterte also said that COVID-19 vaccines “must not be denied nor withheld,” and that “it should be made available to all, rich and poor nations alike, as a matter of policy.” – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Unemployment rate in October 2020 eases to 8.7% —PSA

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 3, 2020

The unemployment rate in October 2020 eases to 8.7%, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

From April 2020, with a 17.6% unemployment rate, the number of unemployed Filipinos continued to drop to 10% in July and 8.7% in October. This is equivalent to 3.8 million Filipinos, 15 years old and above, who are unemployed.

With several establishments reopening after strict lockdowns due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), several Filipinos were able to find jobs during the last quarter of the year.

Meanwhile, the underemployment rate also droppedd to 14.4% this October, compared to 17.3%t last July.

The PSA said the economy is gradually recovering as lockdowns continue to ease. -AAC

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