03 May 2020

Published also in Business Mirror

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said best hygiene and health measures practiced among leading export companies should be the new protocol in business operations as the country prepares for the post-enhanced community quarantine (post-ECQ) scenario.

“Minimum health standards such as strict social distancing, wearing of face masks, presence of sanitation stations, and taking of body temperature must always be observed in work and public places,” the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) chief  said.

“Likewise, the conduct of Covid-19 tests, provision of nearby accommodations and shuttle services, allowing more work-from-home arrangements, and health-care preparedness and insurance from enterprises, should be the ‘new normal’ as we ease into the new way of doing business,” he added.

The trade chief explained that these measures must be exercised in order to minimize the health risk among workers as essential enterprises conduct their operations.

Lopez further emphasized that these be strictly required once other sectors are allowed to conduct businesses.

“We need to have a new way of doing business to ensure that our significant gains during the ECQ and the collective efforts in flattening the curve will not be put to waste once ECQ is fully lifted,” the trade chief said.

“It is accepted that health takes primacy over the economy, but there is no dichotomy between the two if we take precautionary health measures when we do business and work with other people to minimize any health risk in a post-ECQ environment,” Lopez added.

Several sectors have been recognized by DTI for their interventions in protecting the safety and well-being of their employees, as well as in providing them with extensive health benefits.

Among these include leading export-oriented manufacturing industries, which provided additional health benefits such as near-site accommodation and shuttle services, hiring from local communities, and regular checkups and health care in the workplace.

These companies also distributed face masks and digital thermometers to employees at no cost, and  deployed ambulances, isolation tents and clinics in their facilities.

DTI has also been working along with the Departments of Health and Labor and Employment  to issue the new set of guidelines on the minimum health protocols in all business operations.

The trade chief acknowledged the importance of continuing working-from-home arrangements  to help mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. He added that the rise of the e-commerce industry and delivery models should be further enhanced even after the ECQ.

“As we continue to collaborate with different industries, we call on the cooperation of all our partners in the private sector to maintain best practices through observing health protocols and sustaining measures for employees’ welfare. Only then can we heal as one and move forward as one,” Lopez said.