Gov’t raises allowed occupancy in biz establishments

Business establishments allowed to open in their localities which are issued a safety seal will be granted an increase of 10 percentage points in operational or venue capacity with the issuance of the latest joint guidelines from five government regulatory agencies.

The latest directive is contained in the “Supplemental Guidelines Relative to the Implementing Guidelines of the Safety Seal Certification Program” signed by the heads of the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Tourism (DOT), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Oct. 1.

In a statement Sunday, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said the increase in allowable occupancy was meant to encourage businesses to apply for the safety seal and strengthen health protocols in establishments and workplaces.

“This seal is one of the government’s measures to restart the economy under the new normal and increase employment opportunities by making the reopening of business more viable for operation,” Lopez said.

Local government units (LGUs) contact tracing applications and other contract tracing applications will be considered in lieu of the StaySafe.PH while DILG is working on the integration of StaySafe.PH with other contract tracing applications.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said that in the absence of the digital contact tracing application for those establishments or offices applying for the safety seal certification, the LGU-mandated applications they are currently using will be considered.

“The DILG is in the process of integrating the application with other existing applications initiated by the local government units (LGUs) to effectively contain the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019),” Año said.

The supplemental guideline also designated DOLE and LGUs as the issuing authority for the safety seal for information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) and for dental clinics.

In addition, the supplemental guideline requires establishments and workplaces to designate safety officers who will be in-charge of enforcing public health standards in their areas.

“Our safety officers play a key role in boosting the overall economic productivity of our firms.  When workers are assured of their safety and health at their respective workplaces, work quality and productivity are also enhanced,” Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

Safety officers who have not yet undergone the required occupational safety and health (OSH) training may avail of the free OSH training offered at DOLE or at any DOLE-accredited training organizations.

The safety seal of tourism-oriented businesses and venues, on top of the DOT accreditation, strengthens the government’s effort to revive the tourism industry, one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said.

“These new guidelines in the safety seal certification program heighten the confidence of the public to patronize compliant tourist-oriented establishments while ensuring the health and safety of everyone concerned,” she added.

The supplemental guidelines also list some health protocols such as the promotion of proper disposal of facemasks through signages in designated facilities.

The government highly encouraged proprietors of air-conditioned indoor establishments and workplaces to procure carbon dioxide detectors to better monitor the adequacy of ventilation.