By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Nancy Binay on Sunday urged the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) to hasten crafting an “easy-to-follow” guide book that would help the public adjust to “new normal” practices once the enhanced community quarantine is lifted on May 15.
Binay said such exit plan is needed to manage people’s expectations of how the government responds to the COVID-19 crisis.
“We are asking the people to embrace the new normal. Pero ang tanong (but the question is): Is the government and the private sector ready for the new normal?” Binay said.
The senator said a comprehensive, yet easy-to-follow “blue book” for the public, local government units (LGUs) and essential businesses in the private sector, would serve as a guide on what to do and expect once the ECQ is relaxed or lifted on May 15—which is practically 20 days from today.
“It’s filling in the details. This is about guiding the public of what to expect once restrictions in traveling and going to work are relaxed, and how to manage people’s expectations,” she said.
“A ‘blue book’ also serves as a handy instruction manual for essential businesses on how to retrofit their establishments to the new normal,” she pointed out.
According to Binay, the current IATF guidelines have enough content to be transposed into an illustrated format that can serve as a handbook for public transport operators, building management firms, schools, restaurants, hotels, shops, amusement and entertainment centers.
From this week until the end of May, she said the government should have released infomercials on TV and social media, downloadable pamphlets, and posters about the expected changes in a new normal world.
“Parang FAQs (frequently asked questions) upang masagot ang mga tanong at mga pag-aalinlangan, at ang pangalawa ay to institutionalize minimum public health protocols like personal hygiene, and social distancing in a more systematic fashion,” she suggested.
She also said that even before the expected May 15 lifting, the IATF should share to the public its roadmap in transitioning to the new normal.
“It’s a given that we will have to live with the virus every day in our lives until a vaccine is available,” she said.
“Importante na ipaalam ng gobyerno sa publiko kung meron mang public-private initiated exit plans at strategic transition roadmaps para makapaghanda din tayo at makapag-adjust, (It’s important for the government to inform the public if there are public-private initiated exit plans and strategic transition roadmaps so we can be prepared and we can adjust)” she noted.
It would be negligence on the part of the government if it lifts the lockdown without the necessary safety nets in place to control disease transmission, such as minimizing risks in vulnerable areas like public markets, trains and buses, workplaces, including the health system’s capacity to test, isolate and treat every COVID case, and trace every contact, Binay warned.
“Bago pa man dumating ang (Even before the) May 15, preventive measures should already be in place in order to minimize the risk of community infection.
“This is why the government must launch an aggressive multi-sectoral information campaign so that the exit plan is coordinated, and the people are fully informed, engaged and accountable to live under a new normal,” the senator noted.