Faced with the physical closure of their establishments under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) since March 16, employers are in the quandary on how the company or establishment can continue to operate during the extended ECQ and the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and after the ECQ.

The areas under the ECQ until May 15 are National Capital Region (NCR), Region 3 (Central Luzon), except the Province of Aurora, Region IV-A (CALABARZON), the Province of Pangasinan, the Province of Benguet, Baguio City, the Province of Iloilo, the Province of Cebu, Cebu City, and Davao City.

The extension of the ECQ in various areas in the country where strict confinement measures will still remain in their localities and the GCQ for areas with low and moderate risk of COVID-19 outbreak, the Government has allowed several businesses to operate.

The reopening of allowed industries during the ECQ and GCQ is good news to both employers and workers. These are the industries that can operate under both ECQ and GCQ as recommended by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). These are agriculture and fisheries, manufacturing and processing, hospitals and medical clinic, dental and EENT Clinics (with strict health standards), retail establishments, food preparations and water refilling stations, logistics services providers, power, energy, water, IT and telecommunications supplies and facilities, waste disposal, electricity, gas, stream and air conditioning supply, delivery services, veterinary activities, repair services, gasoline stations, housing, funeral services and export.

The sectors not allowed during the ECQ but allowed during GCQ are the following: Beverages (non-alcoholic ad alcohol drinks), cement and steel, electrical machinery; wood products, furniture, non-metallic products, textile/wearing apparels, tobacco products, paper and paper products, rubber and plastic products; coke and refined petroleum products; other non-metallic mineral products; computer, electronic and optical products; electrical equipment; machinery equipment; motor vehicle, trailers and semi-trailers; other transport equipment.

Also allowed under the GCQ are other services such as malls and commercial centers, (which will include hardware stores, clothing and accessories, and non-leisure stores, apart from the establishments that are allowed to operate under ECQ); barber shops, salon, spas, and other personal care industries (subject to strict health standards); wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles; construction and Build Build Build; forestry and logging; publishing activities; motion picture, video and television program production, sound recording and music publishing activities; and advertising and market research.

Further, other services allowed for areas under GCQ are real estate activities ( except real estate buying and selling); office administration, office support and other business activities legal and accounting, insurance, reinsurance, and pension funding except compulsory social security; architecture and engineering activities; technical testing and analysis, scientific and research development; other professional, scientific, and technical activities; social work activities without accommodation; and all government offices.

Under the GCQ starting May 1, areas identified as low and moderate-risk in the spread of COVID-19 shall still observe the following: Select workers will be allowed to go out and work in phases; those aged below 21 and above 60, and high health risk individuals shall continue to stay at home; partial opening of non-leisure shops and malls. Other protocols being observed under the ECQ will still be implemented such as mandatory temperature check, mandatory wearing of masks and mandatory use of alcohol. There will be resumption of priority and essential construction projects, resumption of public transportation at a reduced capacity, curfew for non-workers and continued unhampered movement of goods.

On the update of the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP), more than two million workers nationwide have been displaced as local governments continue to implement COVID-19 quarantine measures. In the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), a total of 57,476 workers were affected by the Temporary Closure (TC) of their company/establishment while 10,901 personnel reported reduced incomes due to modified working arrangements (fewer workdays, rotation, forced leave, and telecommuting.).

A total of 4,806 establishments were affected during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon as based on the data gathered from the Department of Labor and Employment Cordillera (DOLE-CAR) citing statistics from its provincial field offices in Abra, Apayao, Baguio City, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mt. Province.

The enhanced community quarantine in Baguio City and Benguet and other COVID-19 high-risk areas has been extended until May 15 amid a continuous spike in the number of people who contract the infectious coronavirus.

DOLE earlier rolled out cash assistance programs to cover those affected by government measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 but unfortunately, the labor department stopped accepting applications for the CAMP since April 15 saying that funding is “very close to being depleted.”

In all actions we do during these times of crisis, the importance of honesty, fairness and good faith is very important.

END/Patrick T Rillorta