LAST week, I joined an inter-agency group composed of operatives from the Department of Labor (DOLE), the Baguio Health Department (BHD), the city's Business Licensing Office and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for an inspection to establishments in the city on their compliance to the minimum health protocol meant for dine-in and take-out food services.
We were guided by a checklist prepared by the city's licensing office and each team inspected the various eateries and restaurants starting at the central business district (CBD) including some dining places and food stalls at SM City Baguio. We noted that many establishments attempted to comply with the guidelines by placing floor mats or foot baths with disinfectant at their entrance including the checking of customer's temperature using a thermal scanner but not all followed the logging procedure of walk-ins.
As part of the "new normal" requirement in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, we checked whether health checklists are being distributed for clients to monitor and record their temperature readings from the thermal scan. The name of the customer and contact address is a must including a declaration of health and whereabouts in the past year as the necessary information needed for contact tracing. We also informed the establishment managers that a control officer must be tasked to manage the flow of incoming and outgoing customers and it should not exceed fifty percent (50 percent) of their usual capacity. They should also have the hotline numbers of the nearest health clinic or hospital should they encounter a customer or employee needing immediate medical help. Aside from that, there should also be a system where the personal effects of clients, including bags, jackets, and gadgets, are disinfected and deposited in secured sanitary plastic bags.
In our three-day rounds, we also informed restaurant managers that the distancing of chairs must at least be one meter apart on all sides, there should be visible floor markings for the guidance of clients, proper ventilation, and sanitizing equipment and tools. The health protocol also requires the sterilization of work stations before and after each service and for furniture that is made of porous materials to be covered in plastic for ease of sanitation.
Concerning employees in the workplace, no personnel with Covid-19 symptoms or with exposure to Covid-19 patients shall be allowed to work, and there should be no wearing of pieces of jewelry like rings, bracelets, watches, earrings and exposed body piercings.
Also required by the minimum health protocol imposed on city restaurants and fastfoods are the mandatory wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) but not limited to a facemask, face shield, eyeglasses, gloves, hair caps and mandatory wearing of closed shoes. Further, there should be clean trash bins, clean washrooms and toilets with sufficient soap, water and tissue and toilet paper. Single-use supplies like cotton balls, popsicle sticks and tissue must be properly disposed of.
Over the weekend, my wife and I went to the Mirador Jesuits Villa upon invitation by its Baguio overseer Nannette Filler for a Sunday service with Fr. Jose Quilongquilong of the Loyola School of Theology. During almost three months of enhanced-to-general community quarantine, it was our first physical mass with an officiating priest and we also noted few changes in the way church service was conducted. During his preliminary talks, the Jesuit priest mentioned the Bishop and priest's dialogue with Mayor Magalong where religious services can accordingly resume but with strict compliance to health and social distancing protocols. I noted the yellow markers at the arm-rest of each pew that suggests where a parishioner should be aligned when seated.
I later read the guidelines for the conduct of church gatherings in the Philippines under the "new normal" by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and our two-meter distancing at the Mirador Jesuits Villa conforms with just over a dozen of us widely spread apart during our historic mass gathering. Barbershops and beauty salons can already operate but for basic hair cutting and styling only provided they observe basic restrictions like what I mentioned above.