Imee: Give Our Public Spaces Back To The People

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Senator Imee Marcos said the time has come for the government and local officials to open up public spaces, shorten curfews, and extend business hours amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, said lockdowns were not the answer to control the spread of the virus and have made most Filipinos “cash-poor, space-poor, and time-poor.”

Lockdowns are keeping people in highly populated cities too cramped in their homes to observe proper distancing, also limiting their mobility to find work, Marcos explained.

“In the crowded shanties of Metro Manila, the overcrowded migrant barangays of Cebu, physical distancing is well-nigh impossible,” the senator said.

As former governor of Ilocos Norte, Marcos believes “lockdowns are only the final solution for highly infected, target sitios or barangays where protocols are still consistently ignored.”

Opening up public spaces and closing off side roads to vehicular traffic after office hours will allow people to do their daily chores and promote both physical and mental health, as long as the wearing of face masks and social distancing continue, Marcos said.

“What if we open up our streets to people instead of cars after workday hours?” Marcos proposed.

“Let’s allow our poor, cramped families these precious spaces to breathe, play, cook, wash, and catch some sunlight. Maybe it’s now time to return our parks, stadiums, auditoriums and sideroads to the public at last!” Marcos said.

Shortening curfews and extending business hours will also ease crowding in offices, markets and groceries, and limited public transport, Marcos added.

“We need to invent time: Keep everything open as long as we can to prevent crowding, rush hours, and panic. Let’s plan for longer market hours, allow offices to keep flexible time, make government 24/7 to avoid those long distribution lines for ‘ayuda’,” Marcos explained.

“True, it may raise the electric bills, but the cost of lights, security and overtime would still be far less than the cost of infection and joblessness. We already have a pandemic, let’s not encourage pandemonium,” Marcos added.

“We have seven months to go before an acceptable vaccine may be produced, and several more months before it is widely available wordwide and in the Philippines, ” Marcos pointed out.

“In the long meanwhile, let us learn to live with the virus, and start by giving public spaces back to the people.” she added.