The “Safety Seal” is something customers should look for before they go inside a business establishment or public place.
It is a step toward making the public feel safe as more business establishments and offices reopen following the relaxing of quarantine measures. The seal means the establishment is taking measures to prevent the transmission of the virus that causes the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
It is similar to a Best of Cebu seal of SunStar that declares the restaurant or hotel as having passed the test for being the best in the locality. The “Safety Seal” that is given by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the local government unit works the same way, by declaring that this restaurant or grocery or mall is complying with minimum public health standards set by the government in the fight against Covid-19.
This is the right step to preparing for the reopening of the local economy. It becomes problematic, however, if corrupt practices attach to the handing out of the seal and there is no follow-up to check enforcement.
The government offices assigned to give out the seal have to make sure establishments are consistent in their compliance and that what they implemented was not for compliance’s sake only. What are these minimum standards?
Aside from the usual triage for submission of health declaration form, temperature check, distancing, and the wearing of mask and face shield, the standards include registering for contact tracing with StaySafe.ph and the implementation of adequate air exchange. There should be adequate ventilation where windows are kept open and clean, and ventilating and/or exhaust fans circulate the air, DTI documents at www.dti.gov.ph/safetyseal/ said.
For airconditioned spaces, air handling and air conditioning units can handle MERV 13 or higher filter rating; exhaust fans are installed; windows, doors, or other openings can be or are regularly opened to increase ventilation; ventilating fans do not blow air from person to person; and portable air purifier, if used has HEPA filters.
To be eligible for the seal, the establishment must present a mayor’s permit and register with StaySafe.ph for contact tracing.
The seal is valid for six months. Those issued to tourism enterprises are valid for one year. The seal is renewable if requirements are met.
Who is to check for continued compliance by those granted the seal? Among the requirements is adequate air exchange and filters which should be checked at random and without waiting for six months. The DTI can’t enforce consistently price ceilings, what more the compliance with safety standards?
The seal is meant to boost confidence of the public to go out and fuel the economy. But the seal should not be a one-time deal but a contract to maintain the standards to keep the public safe at all times and not only at the start of the certification program.