Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

MANILA – As more areas are now under general community quarantine (GCQ), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has approved interim guidelines for workplaces to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

In a virtual presser on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the IATF is pushing for alternative work arrangements, which include working-hour shifts, work from home schemes, and working on a rotational basis.

Roque said prolonged face-to-face interaction between workers and clients is discouraged and masks shall be worn at all times.

Meetings needing physical presence shall be kept to a minimum number of participants and with short durations while video conferencing shall be used for lengthy discussions among workers, he added.

Roque noted that office tables should be arranged to maintain proper physical distancing. Barriers may be provided between tables.

Workstation layout should be designed to allow for unidirectional movement in aisles, corridors, or walkways, he added.

To maintain physical distancing, Roque said, the number of people inside an enclosed space, such as a room, store, or hall, shall be limited.

Elevator use should consider physical distancing and limit the number of persons to observe the one-meter physical distancing while the use of stairs should be encouraged, subject to physical distancing requirements.

If more than two stairways are accessible, one stairway may be used exclusively for going up and another for going down.

He said roving officers should be assigned to always ensure physical distancing and observance of minimum health protocols.

The online system shall be highly encouraged for clients needing assistance from offices, including the use of video conferencing, Roque said.

Mall, shopping center guidelines

Meanwhile, the IATF also approved guidelines on the operations of malls and shopping centers in areas declared under GCQ, he said.

Mall owners shall monitor foot traffic and enforce safe distancing by limiting the number of people inside to a density of not more than one person per 2 square meters; reducing the number of open entrances; assigning personnel in high-density areas; and standing on every other step of the escalator, Roque said.

They were also asked to mark or reduce the seats available for waiting; create a one-way flow to decongest queues and facilitate movement; increase police visibility; designate a centralized pickup location for delivery service providers; regulate air conditioning to 26°C, and turn off free Wi-Fi, he said.

Roque said mall owners should also suspend sale events, marketing events, and other promotions that tend to attract large crowds; and implement other measures necessary.

Since May 1, the GCQ, with relaxed quarantine measures, has been implemented in all low- and moderate-risk areas nationwide.

Metro Manila; Central Luzon, except Aurora; Calabarzon; Benguet; Pangasinan; Iloilo province; Cebu province; Bacolod City; and Davao City are still under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

The IATF-EID is authorized to declare, lift, or extend community quarantine in provinces, highly-urbanized cities, and independent component cities.

Provincial governors may also impose, lift, or extend the ECQ in independent component cities and municipalities upon the concurrence of the relevant regional counterpart body of the IATF-EID.

The task force will determine whether more areas can transition to GCQ before the ECQ lapses on May 15. (ia/PNA)

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