SAN Miguel Corp. (SMC) has started doing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) tests to its employees as they prepare to return to work.

The diversified conglomerate said in a statement on Wednesday it had begun swabbing in key facilities while waiting for its dedicated testing lab to finish construction.

“We are prioritizing, first, our security and other maintenance staff, as they are the ones who take care of our workplace. After them, we test our colleagues whose duties require them to report to the office,” SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang said.

“Initially we are looking at only 20% of our head office population to report for work. Majority will still continue to work from home,” he added.

The government has eased quarantine restrictions over the weekend, which prompted several sectors to resume operations starting this week.

SMC said aside from testing employees in key facilities, the company will conduct testing to nearly 8,000 manufacturing, operations and management frontline staff. This would include plants in Cavite, Visayas and Davao in the coming weeks.

“We are doing this in phases. The success with which we can quickly test a large percentage of our employee population over the next few weeks will be a key consideration in the timelines of our overall return-to-work plan,” Mr. Ang said.

“Currently, we are working with partner laboratories to process the tests, but once our lab is up, we expect to be able to process more tests quickly so we don’t burden the system and we can take care of our employees,” he added.

Before it conducted tests for its employees, SMC committed to support local government units in conducting regional testing, donating swab booths and about 34,000 testing kits.

It said it will donate more kits to help the country achieve its goal of conducting 30,000 tests daily by the end of May.

SMC recorded flat earnings of P48.57 billion in 2019 due to lower sales from its oil and food units. Its shares at the stock exchange closed flat on Wednesday at P96.40 apiece. — Denise A. Valdez