As the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic is being controlled by lockdowns during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), Philippine cities and provinces are starting to ease restrictions. The next phase after the ECQ is the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) wherein more businesses are allowed to open and public transportation is allowed to return, albeit, at a reduced capacity.
The GCQ phase, according to the government may last months to ensure that the second wave of the pandemic, if it comes, will not devastate the country again. In Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines where the majority of the latter’s economic power is located, the ECQ will most probably end on 15 May 2020
The question of many business owners and their employees is what are the businesses allowed to open under the GCQ phase and what are the guidelines that they must follow:
BUSINESSES THAT CAN OPEN IN PLACES UNDER GCQ
Local government units which shall be declared by the government to be safe enough to exit the ECQ phase and enter into the GCQ phase are allowed to open many more businesses and with restrictions on the number of their workforce. The government has identified three (3) categories for sectors and industries that may operate under GCQ, to wit:
a. Category I Industries – Agriculture, fishery, and forestry industries, food manufacturing and food supply chain businesses, including food retail establishments such as supermarkets, grocery stores, and food preparation establishments insofar as take-out and delivery services, food delivery services, health-related establishments, the logistics sector, information technology and telecommunication companies, the media, at full operational capacity;
b. Category II Industries – Mining and other manufacturing, export-oriented, and electronic commerce companies, as well as other delivery, repair and maintenance, and housing and office services, at anywhere between fifty percent (50%) up to full operational capacity, and without prejudice to work-from-home and other alternative work arrangements; and
c. Category III Industries – Financial services, BPOs, legal and accounting, and auditing services, professional, scientific, technical, and other non-leisure services, barber shops, salon, and other personal care services as defined by the DTI, and other non-leisure wholesale and retail establishments, at a maximum of fifty percent (50%) work-on-site arrangement, and without prejudice to work-from-home and other alternative work arrangements.
SHOPPING MALLS OPERATIONS IN PLACES UNDER THE GCQ
Limited operations in malls and shopping centers shall be allowed, except for leisure establishments and services which shall continue to be closed.
The establishments and services allowed to operate in malls and shopping centers may only operate at a 50% capacity
Those people ages below 21 years old, and those 60 years old and above may not enter malls and shopping centers, except when indispensable under the circumstances for obtaining essential goods and services or for work in establishments located therein.
The DTI can provide guidelines that can limit foot traffic in these establishments.
PUBLIC AND PRIVATE CONSTRUCTION IN PLACES UNDER GCQ
Only essential public and private construction projects, such as but not limited to sewerage, water services facilities, and digital works, and health facilities, and priority projects, shall be allowed to operate in accordance with guidelines issued by the DPWH, reflected in a separate issuance.
AMUSEMENT, GAMING AND FITNESS ESTABLISHMENTS IN PLACES UNDER GCQ
Amusement, gaming, and fitness establishments, as well as those in the kids and the tourism industries, may not operate.
HOTELS AND OTHER SIMILAR ESTABLISHMENTS IN PLACES UNDER THE GCQ
Hotels or similar establishments shall be not be allowed to operate under GCQ, except those accommodating the following:
a. For areas outside Luzon, guests who have existing booking accommodations for
foreigners as of May 1, 2020;
b. Guests who have existing long-term bookings;
c. Distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and stranded Filipinos or foreign nationals;
d. Repatriated OFWs in compliance with approved quarantine protocols;
e. Non-OFWs who may be required to undergo mandatory facility-based quarantine;
f. Healthcare workers and other employees from exempted establishments under these Omnibus Guidelines and applicable Memoranda from the Executive Secretary.
Provided that in all of the foregoing, hotel operations shall be limited to the provision of basic lodging to guests.
SCHOOLS, COLLEGES, UNIVERSITIES AND OTHER SIMILAR ESTABLISHMENTS IN PLACES UNDER ECQ
Physical classes shall be suspended under in places under the GCQ. Higher Educational Institutions (HEI) may hold classes through flexible learning arrangement to finish the school year of 2019-2020
Written by: Atty. Jon Dominic Penaranda