Businesses in the five barangays are hurting from the effects of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), with reduced sales due to lockdown restrictions.

Oman Cloa of Gwapitos Grill & Resto Bar said the inclusion of Barangay San Miguel in the ECQ implementation where their restaurant is located left them with no choice but to follow despite the reduction of sales because of absence of diners.

“Itong ECQ ay mahirap talaga siya, talagang wala ka choice kung hindi sumunod. As part ng community, okay lang sa akin na may ECQ tayo kasi mahirap na tumataas ‘yong bilang ng COVID cases natin, wala tayong magagawa kung hindi sumunod na lang. Para sa greater good din naman ‘yon. Ang pera kasi kikitain mo naman ‘yan pero paano kapag ang crew mo ang maapektuhan?” he said.

Five barangays, namely Sta. Monica, San Manuel, San Jose, San Pedro, and San Manuel were placed under ECQ from April 16 to 30 last week due to high cases of COVID-19 recorded.

Under the ECQ guidelines, restaurants are allowed  to operate but only limited to take-outs and deliveries.

Before the implementation of ECQ, Cloa said he tied up with some delivery service providers in the city for orders. He, however, admitted that deliveries of orders are not sustainable enough to support their operation which pushed him to reduce the number of his crew.

His restaurant has four remaining employees, where he let each of them take the duty per day to assist in the deliveries.

“Sana makabawi tayo pero sa restaurant business kasi hindi mo rin masabi ang tao kasi gaya ngayon, ang market naming ay locals lang. Ang locals din natin ay maingat din sila, hindi rin sila lumalabas. Before ECQ, noong nagku-curfew, pahina nang pahina ang nada-dine in at lumalabas ng bahay. Hanggang ‘yan, wala na nga,” he said.

He said it will take three months before his restaurant can gain back the losses due to the quarantine restrictions.

Marijhune Sue Flores Sy of Ramen Mura in Brgy. San Pedro said she is certain that the quarantine will have some severe effects on businesses as some people are already struggling even before the ECQ implementation and this development will make it harder for them to survive.

Despite the challenges, she believes that the ECQ implementation will help to protect locals against the virus.

“I see many businesses not being able to survive and a lot more people losing their jobs because of this. But we understand the necessity of implementing ECQ in order to protect the people and to keep the growing infection in check. Hopefully, proper implementation and government support will see us all through safe and healthy,” she said.

Her restaurant started to operate in November last year to provide jobs to employees of their sister restaurant that was closed due to the absence of tourists.

“Naging maganda naman pagtanggap ng mga Palaweño sa Ramen, when we opened last November 2020. Maganda rin ang Sales. But itong ECQ, we expect sales to decrease during these times when people can’t leave their homes and work. Many people just won’t have the resources to spend on non-essential goods,” she said.

As a measure to comply with the guidelines, she reduced the duty of her employees as dine-in is not allowed. Ramen Mura also offers free delivery to their customers as residents are advised to stay at home.

She said she also expects their sales to return to how it went before the ECQ.

“We expect sales to return pre-ECQ times. It will still not be as good as pre-pandemic times but it will be enough for now,” she said.

Meanwhile, Butch Hontanosa, branch manager of Standard Insurance said that financial institutions like them have already adjusted with the scheme implemented under ECQ since the pandemic started in 2020.

However, the absence of walk-in clients at their office in Brgy. San Pedro is an effect they observed as ECQ implementation started.

“Affected kami in terms ng nagwa-walk-in dahil wala na masyadong pumupunta sa office, pero tuloy-tuloy pa rin naman ang operation kasi meron naman tayong through phone, meron din na through e-mails, online kasi ‘yong karamihan na transactions natin. Meron sa e-mail, Facebook, Messenger,” he said.

To limit the number of persons inside their office, they have arranged a work from home set up for some of their employees as transactions can also be done virtually. Even the ECQ restrictions in office setup are not new to them, he said that this period would still have minimal effect on them in terms of their sales. 

“Noong nangyari ang lockdown, parang hindi naming maramdaman ‘yong effect ng two weeks lockdown kasi nga hindi na talaga masyado ‘yong pumupunta sa office. Meron (effect sa sales) pero minimal lang effect niya sa sales. Meron siguro clients namin na supposed to be na pupunta sana pero sabihin na lang na ipagpaliban na lang muna ang pagpunta,” he said.

Hontanosa said that even when ECQ is lifted, they are still pushing the online mode of transactions as also a way to lessen the number of individuals visiting their office as a measure to ensure that the virus will not be spread in their premises.

“Iyong mga tao parang delayed lang sila, hindi lang muna sila pumunta ng office, babawi lang din sila. Kung mawala na ‘yong ECQ, back to normal na, kahit papaano may pupunta na sa office para magbayad, magpapa-issue ng policy. Sa ngayon pinupush talaga namin ang online payment, online transaction kasi iniiwasan din namin talaga ‘yong pumupunta ng office,” he said.