House execs define ‘new normal’ in newly filed bill
MANILA, Philippines — House leaders have filed a bill defining the “new normal” due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) such as the mandatory wearing of face masks in public spaces and workplaces and mandatory physical and social distancing.
Under House Bill No. 6623 or “The New Normal for the Workplace and Public Spaces Act of 2020,” several government measures being implemented by the government in response to the coronavirus pandemic will be extended for three years or “sooner upon official declaration of the President.”
“Guided foremost by the principles of protecting the most vulnerable, ensuring health and safety for all, guaranteeing respect for human rights, and facilitating the inclusive and holistic economic well-being of all sectors and industries, this proposed bill envisions a whole-of-society approach in ushering a hopeful yet well-planned path towards ‘the new normal,’” the bill states.
“This bill 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 Enhanced Community Quarantine and serves as a guide to the public,” it added.
The bill proposes that among the measures to be imposed in public places are the mandatory wearing of masks, the availability of handwashing or sanitizing stations in public areas, temperature checks, and physical distancing of at least one meter, but preferable two meters, in all public spaces.
For public transportation, physical distancing shall also apply in ticket queues, and passengers in all types of public transportation vehicles shall be required to wash their hands or sanitize before boarding the vehicle and be seated a seat apart and be at all times in face masks.
“Contact-less” payment mechanism shall also be implemented.
“The operation of motorcycle taxis shall remain suspended to prevent the spread of the virus through shared helmets and close physical contact between the passenger and driver,” the bill notes.
For the education sector, all classes and school activities “shall remain suspended until further notice without prejudice to the academic freedom and levels of autonomy enjoyed by institutions of higher learning in the governance of their own academic affairs” subject to consultation with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
No student, however, shall be unreasonably penalized for their inability to participate in online classes due to connectivity and lack of gadget or equipment.
In foodservice workplaces, operations will initially resume only with take-out/delivery service before gradually re-introducing dine-in services. Buffets and salad bar services are temporarily discontinued.
Food establishments are also asked to create maintain two-meter distances between tables when dine-in service resumes.
Commercial stores and centers such as banks, boutiques, groceries, supermarkets, and shopping malls shall establish a maximum number of people inside their establishment at any given time and limit entry. They are also asked to promote online transactions and shopping services.
Offices in buildings such as call centers and other standard officers shall likewise limit the number of people who use elevators and to put more vending machines instead of opening cafeterias. Physical meetings are also discouraged.
For salons, parlors, and spas, wearing face masks and gloves are mandatory since physical contact is unavoidable and frequent handwashing and sanitizing of salon tools used shall be observed.
In construction sites, factories, and other industrial workplaces, on-site and production schedules need to be adjusted and the use of co-workers’ tools and equipment shall be limited.
Offenses committed in relation to the New Normal measures shall be punishable by imprisonment of two months or a fine of not less than one thousand pesos but not more than fifty thousand pesos, or both.
Any individual who shall fail to wear a mask while in pubic place shall be issued citation tickets with corresponding one thousand pesos fine or render 1-day mandatory community service.
As of April 27, there are 7,777 COVID-19 cases in the country, with the death toll at 511. The number of recoveries is at 932.
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