‘1 in 5 establishments not complying with health protocols’

Published by rudy Date posted on January 16, 2021

by Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star), 16 Jan 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Almost a year after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, one in every five business establishments still does not comply with health and safety protocols in the workplace.

According to Department of Labor and Employment Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez, only about 80 percent of 72,000 establishments were found compliant with occupational health and safety standards, based on DOLE inspections last year.

Benavidez said that instead of imposing sanctions on non-compliant business operators, the DOLE provided them with technical assistance so they could meet the standards.

“We teach them and educate them on what they must do to comply, through our technical assistance and technical advice, especially to small entrepreneurs,” he noted at a press briefing.

Business operators who persist with the violations will then be sanctioned.

“If they continue to violate, we will not hesitate in imposing penalties if they insist on not following the health protocols,” he added.

The official maintained that employees are encouraged to report if their companies do not comply with protocols.

Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) supports widening the age segment allowed to go out to include even those as young as 10 years old, to support the country’s economic recovery.

The agency is also helping businesses interested in procuring COVID-19 vaccines by consolidating orders to be given to vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said during the Laging Handa briefing yesterday that he is backing the call of acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua to allow children outside their homes to help spur economic activity.

“It’s not bad to consider widening the age segment allowed to go out. But this has to be done gradually. At present, 15 years old is the youngest. We can expand this to 10 years old,” he said.

He said the age segment that can go out can include those who are 10 years old as long as minimum health protocols such as wearing masks and face shields would be followed.

Currently, only those who are 15 to 65 years old are allowed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to step outside their homes and go to public places.

While many sectors have been allowed to reopen, Lopez said businesses have yet to recover as the age restrictions imposed have limited demand and consumption.

“If we really want to go back and recover, we need gradual easing of age restrictions,” he said. – Louella Desiderio

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