On 27 April 2020, Rep. Alan Peter S. Cayetano and other representatives in the lower house of congress submitted House Bill (HB) 6623 or the proposed New Normal for the Workplace and Public Spaces Act of 2020. This Bill was passed in order to guide the public and businesses in their conduct after community quarantine to fight the spread of COVID-19 has been lifted. Without a working vaccine, it is imperative that people and businesses follow “new normal rules” in order for the country to avoid relapse in its fight against COVID-19.
If HB 6623 in its current form will be approved by the Senate and subsequently approved by President Duterte, the following are the salient points and guidelines to be followed by the different sectors and industries in the Philippines.
RELATED: Speaker Cayetano, other House leaders file bill on “New Normal for the Workplace and Public Spaces Act of 2020”
Salient Guidelines of the Universal and Mandatory Safety Measures under HB 6623 affecting the Public
- The mandatory wearing of masks in public places and workplaces and the institution of appropriate penalties for violations thereof.
- The availability of hand washing/sanitizing stations in places frequented by the public or those in high-touch areas.
- Mandatory physical and social distancing measured at least one (1) but preferably two (2) meters between individuals in all public spaces.
- Mandatory temperature checks in all enclosed and semi-enclosed areas and if possible, including open areas in the locality where two or more people shall be gathered.
Salient Guidelines for the Public Transportation Sector under HB6623.
- The operation of motorcycle taxis shall remain suspended to prevent the spread of the virus through shared helmets and close physical contact between the passenger and driver.
- Passengers in all types of public transportation vehicles shall be required to wash their hands or sanitize prior to boarding the vehicle and be seated a seat apart and be at all times in face masks.
- “Contact-less” payment mechanisms and other such practices that will minimize the risk of transmission shall be implemented.
- The national government authorities in coordination with the transport sector shall establish “green lanes” in roads, avenues, highways, and other transport infrastructure networks for healthcare, emergency, peace and order, and supply chain vehicles transporting or delivering individuals, goods, equipment, or in pursuit of services deemed essential and critical.
Salient Guidelines for Food Service Workplaces under HB6623 (Restaurants, Cafes, Fastfoods, etc) [In addition to Universal and Mandatory Safety Measures]
- Resume operations with take-out/delivery service only and gradually re-introduce dine-ins.
- Cut back on food items and temporarily discontinue buffets and salad bar service.
- Create more spaces in the dining area and maintain two-meter distances between tables when dine-in service resumes.
- Provide disposable (non-shared) menu booklets.
- Provide alcohol-based wipes for patrons and/or touchless soap dispensers in wash areas
- Promote contactless service for dine-in patrons.
- Provide disposable cutlery and wash non-disposable cutlery with effective soap solutions on warm water.
- Mark spacing distances in food centers with queue lines.
- Frequently disinfect common spaces.
Salient Guidelines for Commercial Stores and Centers (Banks, Boutiques, Groceries, Supermarkets, Shopping Malls, etc.) under HB6623 [In addition to Universal and Mandatory Safety Measures]
- Establish a maximum number of people inside the store/shop/center/mall at any given time and limit entry/ingress points.
- Promote online transactions and shopping services.
- Implement cashless and/or contact-less sales and customer service.
- frequently sanitize/disinfect items for sale and other high-touch objects in the store/shop.
Salient Guidelines for Offices in Buildings (Call Centers, Standard Offices)under HB6623 [In addition to Universal and Mandatory Safety Measures]
- Limit the number of people who use elevators.
- Put markers on carpets and other flooring materials to create visual boundaries around desks, plexiglass shields between desks that face each other and signs that direct walking traffic in a single direction.
- Tape off areas to promote physical and social distancing — especially in elevators.
- Put more vending machines instead of opening cafeterias.
- Discourage physical meetings and implement online/livestream methods of communication.
Salient Guidelines for Salons, Parlors, and Spas under HB 6623 [In addition to Universal and Mandatory Safety Measures]
- Frequent handwashing and sanitizing of salon tools used.
- Mandatory using of face mask and gloves.
- Apply the best cleaning and disinfection practices in the facility repeatedly.
- Implement protocols and policies on sick employees and clients with flu-like symptoms and have fungal infections.
Salient Guidelines for Construction Sites, Factories, and Related Industrial Workplaces Workstations under HB6623 [In addition to Universal and Mandatory Safety Measures]
- Adjust on-site and production schedules.
- Conduct consultative dialogues between owners, managers, supervisors, and construction workers and agree on collaboratively determined work and/or production schedules.
- Provide mechanisms for work-site mobility and transportation.
- Limit the use of co-workers’ tools and equipment.
- Monitor and implement individualized shifts for the use of equipment, vehicles, tools, and other construction materials.
Salient Guidelines for Schools, Colleges, Universities, and Other Learning/Training Institutions under HB 6623 [In addition to Universal and Mandatory Safety Measures]
- Integrate online classes in the curriculum and promote creative ways of student learning and engagement without physical contact and/or reporting to the classroom.
- Provide staggered school days and smaller class sizes if and when on-site classes resume.
- Implement changes to assemblies, physical education, and recess if and when on-site classes resume.
- Establish floor plans conducive to physical distancing.
- Provide daily temperature checks for students and staff, as well as weekly health check-ups.
Written by: Atty. Jon Dominic Penaranda