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DTI, DOLE issue supplemental protocols for businesses to follow

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Friday issued supplemental guidelines to ensure the safety of workers in workplaces as the government is expected to ease the modified enhanced community quarantine in the National Capital Region and nearby provinces.

Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2004 dated August 14 signed by DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez and DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III took effect  August 15, 2020.

Under the JMC, employers are encouraged to collaborate with the national and/or local government testing efforts like drive-thru or walk-thru testing facilities.     Following the expanded testing strategy in DOH DM 2020-0258 and DOH DM 2020-0258-A, priority workers shall undergo RT-PCR test.

The JMC said this covers all employees in the hospitality and tourism sectors in El Nido, Boracay, Coron, Panglao, Siargao and other tourist zones, as identified and declared by the Department of Tourism (DOT) for test once every four weeks.

All employees of manufacturing companies and public service providers in economic zones located within Special Concern Areas once every quarter.

Frontline and Economic Priority Workers, defined as those who (1) work in high priority sectors, both public and private; (2) have high interaction with and exposure to the public; and (3) live or work in Special Concern Areas, once every quarter.

A RT-PCR or antibody-based tests is not recommended nor required for asymptomatic employees returning to work. Employees physically reporting to work shall be screened for COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, cough, colds and other respiratory symptoms, and/or determination of travel or exposure to COVID-19 cases within the last 14 days.

Aside from the original requirements for face masks, frequent disinfection, physical distancing, and proper hygiene, establishments are required that employees wear face shields.

Face shields shall cover the entire face (completely cover the sides and length of the face). If possible, face shields should extend to the ears and below the chin.

Face shields and masks should always be worn together when interacting with colleagues, clients and/or visitors.

Face shields may be removed according to the demands of the work or when the occupational safety and health of the employees so requires.

Disinfecting/washing resources, supplies/materials should be made available to employees and clients/visitors. Employers classified as large and medium sized private establishments (i.e. those with total assets above P15 million) are enjoined to provide shuttle services to their employees.

Minimum public health standards should be enforced in the shuttle services, i.e. use of face shields and face masks, observance of physical distancing, and frequent disinfection.

Employees inside the vehicles should be required to avoid talking with each other, taking phone calls, eating and removing their masks and shields. Signages of “No Talking,” “No Eating,” and “No Taking Phone Calls” should likewise be displayed or posted on the conspicuous areas in the vehicle.

Adequate ventilation should be strictly enforced inside workplaces, and shuttle service.

The JMC further provides for mandatory advocacy awareness raising programs.  Designated smoking areas in the workplaces shall be provided with individual “booths,” subject to the applicable requirements and standards under Republic Act No. 9211 and Executive Order No. 26, S. 2017.

Employers shall require employees to strictly observe physical distancing measures and other applicable health protocols (i.e. no talking inside designated smoking areas).

Most-at-risk population (MARP) for COVID-19 in the workplace (e.g. senior citizens, pregnant women, individuals with underlying health conditions) and those below 21 years old, shall continue to observe work-from-home arrangements.

Depending on the risk classification of the workplace locality, as defined by IATF’s risk severity grading, Employers shall follow the restriction on mass gatherings, (i.e only 10% of seating capacity for meeting rooms in high/moderate-risk areas (e.g. confined spaces) and a maximum of 50% seating capacity for low-risk areas (e.g. open areas).

Videoconferencing shall always be used for meetings needing large attendance of employees and/or for meetings lasting longer than 15 minutes.

Employers shall adopt staggered meal schedules to further restrict contact among its employees. Eating alone in the workstation is highly encouraged. All employees, upon entering the building premises/workplaces, shall be required to accomplish the Health Declaration Form (Annex A-1), or any digital iteration thereof.

The security staff or other responsible personnel shall immediately screen the accomplished form and perform a temperature check. Employers shall ensure that the Employees, regardless of work arrangements, have access to telemedicine services, either through health maintenance organization (HMO), employer-initiated telemedicine services, or Barangay Health Center.

Large and medium private establishments are strongly encouraged to provide their own telemedicine services, in the absence of an HMO.

Large and medium private establishments (i.e. with total assets of above P15 million) and establishments with multiple tenants are encouraged to designate an isolation area of one room for every 200 employees, which shall be other than the company clinic, and must be situated near the entrance/s or in a nearby facility, for employees needing further assessment due to elevated temperature, presence of flu-like symptoms, any yes answer to the Health Declaration, or exposure history to a COVID-19 case or probable case thereof.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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