MANILA – Business process outsourcing (BPO) companies have until today, Wednesday (18 March 2020) to provide temporary accommodation to their workers, especially those in the night shift, under the government’s Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
In a press conference in Malacañang on Monday night, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said BPO firms will remain operational but only if they give their workers appropriate temporary accommodation arrangements.
“If you notice, the conditions for the BPO is that by March 18 of 2020 they must provide appropriate temporary accommodation arrangements otherwise they will not be allowed to operate because again, we are trying to limit the movement,” Nograles said.
BPO workers will also have to strictly observe social distancing measures and work in a skeletal workforce setup, he said.
He said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez has also committed to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases team to reach out to BPO establishments and operationalize this directive.
Last Saturday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año urged construction companies to give nearby temporary shelter to their manual laborers involved in infrastructure projects of the government under the “Build, Build, Build” program.
Government has also urged employers to suspend rental fees, release an advanced pro-rated 13th-month pay, and give reprieve in utility bills, and assistance to micro, small and medium-scale enterprises.
Aside from BPO workers, media workers will also be exempted from the enhanced community quarantine, he said.
Media personnel will be allowed to travel within the quarantine area after securing an identification card from the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO)’s News and Information Bureau.
“They can avail of PCOO/IPC (International Press Center) media ID so they can continue with their day to day work informing the public,” PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar said.
He also said that his agency has arranged virtual press conferences where reporters can call or text their questions.
Their temperature will also be regularly checked, he said.
Nograles sought for the public’s patience anew and urged compliance with the guidelines to minimize the risk of catching and spreading Covid-19.
“Kailangan natin striktuhan ang lahat ng mga ‘to otherwise kung magbibigay tayo puros mga exemptions babalik lang tayo sa maraming galawan (We have to be strict otherwise if we give many exemptions, we’ll go back to having lots of movement),” he said.
There are currently 142 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country with three recovery cases and 12 fatalities.
The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) earlier assured that it is ready to shoulder hospitals’ testing and other medical costs associated with Covid-19. (PNA)