‘New normal’ bill filed in Congress

BAGUIO. Market goers follow the newly painted guides made by the Baguio City Police Office in an effort to promote social distancing inside the Baguio public market. (Jean Nicole Cortes)
BAGUIO. Market goers follow the newly painted guides made by the Baguio City Police Office in an effort to promote social distancing inside the Baguio public market. (Jean Nicole Cortes)

EIGHT lawmakers filed on Tuesday, April 28, a bill seeking to establish policies and regulations for the “new normal” in workplaces and public spaces once the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is lifted.

In their explanatory note, the lawmakers said House Bill no. 6623 will “prepare and educate the Filipino public for life after the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and to adapt to the new norms of physical distancing.”

“It institutionalizes a new way of life after the ECQ and serves as a guide to the public,” they said.

HB 6623 is patterned after the guidelines listed by the World Health Organization. It requires public, private, and national institutions to:

- Wear masks in public places and workplaces and the institution of appropriate penalties for violations thereof;

- Mandate public establishments to provide hand washing and sanitizing stations.

- Practice physical and social distancing measured at least two meters between individuals in public spaces.

- Procure and establish a drive-through, phone-in, and other contactless modes of testing individuals for the novel coronavirus, or Sars-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19.

- Have contact tracing systems readily available for individuals who are confirmed positive for Covid-19.

- Place online publication materials bearing reminders to practice physical distancing, regular hand washing and sanitizing, medical and health information, updates on the local cases and initiatives of the national government.

- Implement, monitor, and maintain a planned schedule for pedestrians travelling to and from their workplaces in coordination with private sector entities within the local government’s territorial jurisdiction.

- Establish and properly manage government-operated quarantine facilities in partnership with health authorities for individuals mandated by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) or the Department of Health (DOH) regulations to undergo mandatory quarantine.

- Establish electronic or digital governance mechanisms in coordination with other national government agencies and private sectors.

- Continue profiling and monitoring residents; and

- Implement existing measures in dealing with residents or any other individual in the locality who has been confirmed positive for Covid-19.

Other provisions of the bill:

Gatherings as well as the flow of the people in private and government-managed public spaces shall be highly regulated

Universal and mandatory safety measures will be implemented in public transportation.

Motorcycle taxis will still be suspended to prevent the spread of the virus through shared helmets and close physical contact between driver and passenger.

School activities including sports, cultural and academic meets, competitions, extra-curricular, and field trips shall remain suspended until further notice.

The bill is also looking into a “contact-less” payment mechanism that will minimize the risk of transmission.

It further proposes that private commercial and industrial workplaces be monitored and asked to submit a “new normal workforce and workplace management plan” to their respective local governments.

Violators of these new protocols will be imprisoned for two months or required to pay a fine of between P1,000 and P50,000.

The bill was introduced by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Representatives Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., Paolo Duterte, Loren Legarda, Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Eric Yap, Michael Defensor, and Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado.

Metro Manila, 24 provinces and two cities are under ECQ until May 15, 2020 in a bid to slow the spread of the highly infectious novel coronavirus. (SunStar Philippines)


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