DTI, DOLE remind businesses to impose safety measures

A BUSINESS establishment would be ordered to cease its operations if it continues its non-compliance with the health guidelines imposed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) to protect employees and customers from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

So said DTI Assistant Secretary Asteria Caberte, who also said they are doing online monitoring to check if the DTI-Dole guidelines have been implemented at the workplace.

“There will be no penalties. We give technical assistance so they (businesses) can comply. Continued non-compliace will cause cessation of operation which we dont want to happen,” she said.

On July 1, 2020, the DTI and Dole will do actual, physical inspection. of businesses.

During the pandemic, DTI issued a series of health guidelines for malls, shopping centers, salons and barbershops, restaurants and fastfoods as well as guidelines on workplace prevention and control of Covid-19 transmission.

The DTI also issued guidelines on business establishments or activities allowed to operate under general community auarantine (GCQ) and enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

The guidelines do not contradict those of the nter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“The guidelines we have set will not only ensure the safety and health of workers. More importantly, they are meant to enhance their productive capacity by eliminating risks in the workplaces,” Caberte said.

The DTI-Dole guidelines apply to all workplaces, employer, and workers in the private sector, and are aligned with the objectives of the minimum health standards of the Department of Health (DOH) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among the requirements are the wearing of masks, the submission of a daily health symptoms questionnaire and the constant checking of body temperature.

Likewise, equipment and vehicles entering operation areas should undergo disinfection process and physical distancing must be observed in long queues outside the office or store premises.

The guidelines also set the standard procedure for employers on what to do if a worker or employee is suspected of having Covid-19: isolation of the worker or employee, protection of clinic personnel with personal protective equipment, decontamination of the workplace and the swab testing of the employee.

“Not all workers need to be tested and the protocol is that they should fill up a health declaration. If they’ve been exposed to a patient positive for Covid-19 or if they’re feeling unwell, that’s the time it should follow the protocol, and everyone isolated an tested with polymerase chain reaction,” Caberte said.

Inside the workplace, all work areas shall be cleaned and disinfected regularly at least every two hours, while sanitizers, clean water and soap shall be made available for use.

Gathering and eating together in communal areas is discouraged, and physical distancing should always be practiced in office workstations or in operational areas.

Alternative work arrangements like working-hour shifts and work-from-home (WFH)was also encouraged when feasible and on a rotation basis.

Prolonged face-to-face interactions between workers and clients are highly discouraged.

Meetings needing physical presence shall be kept to a minimum number of participants and within a short duration. Instead, video conference should be utilized for lengthy discussions.

In workplaces with high risk of infection like in salons and barbershops, workers should take extra precautionary measures such as strict hygiene and the use of PPEs.

Under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), malls and commercial centers are not allowed to operate.

However, essential businesses remain open for people to purchase basic neccessities.

Barber shops and salons are not allowed to open.

Personal care service such as massage parlors, sauna, facial care and waxing should be closed.

In ECQ areas, restaurants and fastfood outlets may open only for delivery and take out orders.

Caberte said that DTI has allowed industries which deliver essential goods and services to operate in full capacity during ECQ and GCQ.

These include agriculture, forestry, fisheries, manufacturing, hospitals, logistics services, power, energy, water, waste collection, sewerage, and telecommunications sectors.

Also allowed in both ECQ and GCQ are retail establishments, but limited to groceries, supermarkets, public markets, and drug stores.

Delivery services, laundry shops, gasoline stations, construction workers, and media companies are also permitted to operate in both ECQ and GCQ.

“Our present situation is temporary. Let us ensure strict compliance and take this as a civic duty to be able to go faster to normal scheme,” Caberte said.

The IATF has recommended ECQ status for Cebu City from June 15 to 30, 2020. President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation past midnight Monday, June 15, 2020. (JOB with PR)