Distancing to be required when firms reopen

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THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will push for strict social distancing measures, masks, and more widespread work-from-home arrangements when businesses reopen after the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is lifted.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said in a statement Thursday said businesses also need to provide sanitation stations, take temperatures, and provide vitamins.

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

The department is working with the health and labor departments to issue new guidelines for health protocols to be observed by all businesses.

Mr. Lopez said that the protocols must be adopted as soon as more parts of the economy are allowed to resume operations.

“We need to have a new way of doing business to ensure that our significant gains during the ECQ and the collective efforts in flattening the curve will not be put to waste once ECQ is fully lifted,” he said.

“It is accepted that health takes primacy over the economy, but there is no dichotomy between the two if we take precautionary health measures when we do business and work with other people to minimize any health risk in a post-ECQ environment.”

Export and outsourcing companies were allowed to operate throughout the ECQ, under the condition that they provide housing and transportation. They were also urged to apply health and hygiene measures like social distancing.

The DTI said export-oriented manufacturing companies provided accommodations, transportation services, vitamins and medicine, and regular health-check ups. The companies also hired from local communities, distributed face masks and digital thermometers to employees, and set up isolation tents, clinics, and ambulances at their facilities.

“As we continue to collaborate with different industries, we call on the cooperation of all our partners in the private sector to maintain best practices through observing health protocols and sustaining measures for employees’ welfare,” Mr. Lopez said. — Jenina P. Ibañez