Ever since the government imposed the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) last March, automakers had to close most of their dealerships in the country as a way to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus.
However, some parts of the country were not as badly affected by COVID-19. This allowed automakers to eventually open dealerships in areas that are under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) while also strictly following the minimum health standards.
The government, however, just announced that auto dealerships located in areas under the government's new Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) can restart operations. In a recent press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that several industries can soon operate under the MECQ. Included in the allowed industries are auto dealerships which were originally not allowed to open under ECQ.
However, Roque said that under MECQ, dealerships will only be allowed to operate partially. This means that only 50% of the workforce will be reporting for duty. The other 50% will have to work-from-home or remotely off-site.
For dealerships that are located in GCQ areas, however, the government said that 100% of the workforce can report for duty, provided that the dealerships will follow strict health protocols and minimum health standards (i.e. social distancing, good hygiene, temperature checks, hand sanitizing practices, etc.).
"Kinakailangan po natin maging flexible dahil ang ating palatuntunan nga po ay hinay-hinay, dahan-dahan, unti-unti. Kapag dumami po ang kaso, babalik at babalik tayo sa ECQ," said Roque.
[We need to be flexible because our principle is little by little. If ever the number of cases grow once again, we will have to return to ECQ]
With the National Capital Region (NCR) set to be placed under MECQ starting May 16, certain dealerships in Metro Manila could begin operations. But with automakers yet to make a formal statement regarding this matter, we may have to wait as to which ones will open. More importantly, these dealerships will also have to formulate ways to observe strict safety protocols, as well as health practices that will keep their customers and employees safe while inside the dealerships.
It took some time, but should the country be able to flatten the COVID-19 curve, the auto industry could be on its way along the road to recovery.