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Gov’t to require firms to adopt additional health protocols

/ 05:12 AM April 24, 2020

The government is drafting a set of health protocols that businesses must adhere to—or run the risk of being shuttered.

In a statement on Thursday, the Department of Trade and Industry said it was working with the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Employment for the issuance of the guidelines, which include among others, work-from-home arrangements and provisions for vitamins.

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“The conduct of COVID-19 tests, provision of nearby accommodations and shuttle services, allowing more work-from-home arrangements, health care preparedness and insurance from enterprises should be the new normal as we ease into the new way of doing business,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

Other health protocols that need to be embedded in businesses’ standards include “strict social distancing, wearing of face masks, presence of sanitation stations, taking of body temperature and provision of vitamins must always be observed in work and public places,” according to Lopez.

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Asked if these “guidelines” were mere guidance for businesses, Lopez said these “will include penalties for noncompliance, which may include closure until they comply.”

The new virus, which was first reported in China in December, is redefining nearly all facets of life, including the way companies do business, as countries extend the lockdown of their borders and limit peoples’ movements.

To recall, in the early days of the enhanced community quarantine here in Luzon, Lopez had appealed to key businesses to provide free lodging and shuttle services to their workers, specifically those affected by the halt in public transport.

Although battered by the pandemic, too, the private sector had extended help, with many firms donating large amounts of money to help those in need. Arthur Tan, CEO of Ayala manufacturing company Integrated Micro-Electronics Inc., said, however, this could lead to overdependence.

“Constantly just giving away everything, or asking private industry to support everything, is not going to be sustainable,” Tan said during a previous online general membership meeting of the Management Association of the Philippines.

“I mean, we all want to help. But if the idea is that we’re going to help to the level that there will no longer be an economy to come back to, I think that’s false hope,” he said.

Lopez said precautionary measures should be exercised in order to minimize health risks among workers.

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TAGS: Department of Trade and Industry, health protocols, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez
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