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What is the ‘new normal’ for business establishments?

It is normal to give away a little of one’s life in order not to lose it all, said Albert Camus, a Nobel Prize-winning journalist and philosopher.

As most areas in the Philippines are easing into a general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has directed certain establishments to comply with minimum health protocols once they resume operations

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Inconvenient? Yes. Unreasonable? Maybe. While these protocols may demand major adjustments for both business owners and consumers, compliance should serve a greater purpose—that is, skirting around the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and allowing the private sector to recover from economic losses and mental health issues, among others.

For instance, in DTI Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 20-37, all restaurants and fast food businesses, regardless of the size of their establishment, shall provide dine-in services as follows: (a) 30 percent operational capacity in areas under GCQ; and (b) 50 percent operational capacity in areas under MGCQ.

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Apart from implementing contract tracing, thermal scanning and social distancing measures, food establishments must, among others: (a) provide proper ventilation and exhaust system within their premises, if applicable; (b) ensure that their chairs are distanced at least one meter from each other, and on all sides, and positioned diagonally; (c) arrange for plastic barriers or dividers for face-to-face seating; (d) properly sanitize their restrooms; (e) close their play areas; (f) post the necessary information at the entrance and/or other conspicuous areas inside the premises; (g) cover with plastic furniture made of porous materials; (h) observe proper disposal of disposable equipment, utensils and plates; and (i) designate properly marked pick-up areas outside the premises.

Establishments violating any of these protocols for the first time shall be given an outright warning and will be accordingly endorsed to the health office of the concerned local government unit (LGU). Meanwhile, those that failed to completely comply with said protocols shall be temporarily closed to correct their deficiencies, after which they may be allowed to reopen.

Barbershops and salons located in areas under GCQ and MGCQ have also been allowed to resume operations. Owners are not required to apply for the corresponding accreditation before reopening. Thus, those establishments in areas under GCQ may reopen at 30 percent operational capacity, which may be gradually increased to 50 percent after two weeks from resuming operations. Meanwhile, those in areas under MGCQ may immediately reopen at 50 percent operational capacity. Barbershops and salons in areas under GCQ may only offer basic haircutting services, while no similar limitations have been imposed on those in areas under MGCQ.

As with food establishments, barbershops and salons in areas under GCQ must be able to accommodate social distancing protocols in their premises and comply with the other protocols that may be prescribed by the DTI.

In this regard, they are required to, among others: (a) post the necessary information at the entrance and other conspicuous areas within their premises; (b) provide for a floor mat or foot bath with disinfectant; (c) ensure the distancing of chairs at least one meter apart on all sides; (d) place visible markings on the floor and unusable chairs for the guidance of their customers; (e) ensure proper ventilation; (f) sterilize the workstation before and after each service; (g) cover in plastic furniture made of porous materials; and (h) regularly sanitize high-contact areas and surfaces, such as door handles and common tables.

The resumption of, and continued operations of barbershops and salons shall be subject to their proprietors’ compliance with the proper health protocols prescribed by the DTI, which it will further assess through its post-audit system.

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TAGS: Business Establishments, New normal
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