The number of COVID-19 cases in the country is still rising and the 30,000 tests a day have not yet been achieved. The General Community Quarantine (GCQ) was implemented in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the rest of the country is now under the most lenient Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) to gradually reopen the economy.

As quarantine measures were eased nationwide starting Monday, June 1, Malacañang warned that stricter protocols may be reimpose if the public fails to observe physical distancing and health standards.

Our health and government officials have advised the public not to be complacent even if quarantine measures have been relaxed, saying the easing is being done to reopen the economy gradually and not because the threat of the virus is no longer present.

To reduce the transmission of COVID-19, workers and employers in the private sector and government officials and employees will be mandated to observe strict health protocols as the Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) remain in effect in Baguio City

In the Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19 signed by Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, workers and employers in the private sector and for the government the guidelines provided by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) will be required to follow total precautionary measures as the country grapples with the containment of the deadly COVID-19.

Among the salient features of the guidelines which is similar to that of the government guidelines are as follows: Before entering the workplace, all employers and workers must have face masks worn at all times and only removed when eating/drinking. (To be provided for by the employer); All are required to accomplish daily health symptoms form, undergo temperature check, and have them recorded in the health symptoms questionnaire.

As a rule, if a worker has a temperature of > 37.5°C, even after a 5-minute rest, or if his response in the questionnaire needs further evaluation by the clinic staff, the person shall be isolated in an area identified by the company and will not be allowed to enter the workplace premises.

Clinic staff assigned to assess the workers held in the isolation area shall be provided the appropriate medical grade PPEs by the establishment which shall include but not limited to, face masks, goggles/face shields, and or gloves.

Employers must provide the Department of labor and employment (DOLE), the monthly reporting of illness, diseases, and injuries utilizing the DOLE Work Accident/Illness Report Form (WAIR); Disinfecting must be done on equipment or vehicles entering the establishments, including facilities, and touched objects, such as doorknobs and handles, at least once every two hours.

It is also reminded to observe physical distancing at all times; observe proper respiratory etiquette and disinfection protocols; eating in communal areas are discouraged and meetings that require physical presence musts be reduced or avoided.

Also, private establishments are mandated to implement alternative work arrangements, such as working-hour shifts, work from home, where feasible, and on a rotation basis; a worker suspected of having COVID-19 must be brought to the nearest hospital, if needed.

A work agreement is required to be developed by employers which would detail the deliverables from these employees and there shall be no diminution in wages or benefits.

It is important to note that according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the said guidelines are aligned with the minimum health standards of the Department of Health.

Most ‘at risk’ workers and vulnerable groups, or those 60 years old or of any age with co-morbidities or pre-existing illness, such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer, or with immunocompromised health status; or with high-risk pregnancy are encouraged to do work from home arrangement.

It is important to note that according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the said guidelines are aligned with the minimum health standards of the Department of Health.

END/Patrick Rillorta