Amid the threats of new Covid-19 variants in the country, the Departments of Labor and Employment and the Trade and Industry remind employers, contractors, subcontractors, and business establishments to reinforce their strict implementation of the minimum public health and safety standards and protocols in the workplace.

During this pandemic, I’m heartened to see our Baguio and Benguet farmers bring vegetables for free to the DOLE regional and Baguio-Benguet field offices for employees, clients, and anyone who wanted to bring home fresh vegetables from the Cordillera farms. All parts of our society are coming together in a spirit of collaboration unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

That sentiment is a source of comfort and an important reminder that we are not alone. From courageous healthcare workers on the frontlines, to essential employees in the government and service sector, we appreciate and thank you.

Going back to the reinforcement of health protocols in workplace, many circulars and regulations have been issued by various government agencies, including DOLE, DTI, Department of Health, and the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Local government units and even the barangays already issued varying regulations which business ownersmust comply with and continuously abide by, for the commencement and continuous operations of their businesses.

Everyone must cooperate. Minimum health protocols include wearing of face masks and shields, hand washing, disinfecting, and physical distancing. Contact tracing is also required in all establishments, with a health officer monitoring that minimum health standards are strictly implemented.

The DTI and DOLE also have sector-specific guidelines that can be downloaded from the websites of DOLE, DTI, and DOH (www.dole.gov.ph, www.dti.gov.ph, and www.doh.gov.ph, specifically Joint Memorandum Circular 20-04, 20-04-A issued by the DTI and DOLE or the DTI and DOLE Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of Covid-19; DOLE Department Order 224, s. 2021and DOH Administrative Order 2020-0015, and the updated DOLE-DTI Advisory 21-01, s. 2021.

These laws are guidelines for all employers, contractors, subcontractors, and business establishments and their workers or employees.

The willful failure or refusal to comply with any of the pertinent minimum public health and safety standards and protocols shall be penalized in accordance with Section 29 of DOLE DO 198, s. 2018 or the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 11058 – An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards and Providing Penalties for Violations thereofand other applicable regulations and guidelines.

Based on the Worldometer Covid-19 Data, the Philippines has 1,524,449 Covid cases with 26,874 deaths and 1,449,579 recoveries; while new Covid-19 variants, such as the UK and South African variants, were also reported in the country. Amid these developments, business establishments that were allowed to reopen continue to operate.

The government reminds us that the new normal is characterized by volatility and uncertainty and therefore it is expected to implement interventions that will increase the confidence of society to optimize economic activities in the presence of Covid-19, support the population groups that are most affected, and deliver existing programs through efficient and effective approaches in light ofthe new normal. We still believe that strong Filipino communities work together against Covid-19 and we heal as one.

END/Patrick T Rillorta