By Ben Rosario
Key leaders of the House of Representatives have drafted a bill proposing to establish policies and comprehensive regulations as a “new normal” for the workplace and public spaces is ushered in by the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions presumably next month.
Authored by House officials led by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, the proposed “The New Normal for the Workplace and Public Spaces Act 2020” provides for mandatory safety measures and strict social distancing proposals to be implemented in all public and work places in the country.
The bill seeks to suspend classes in schools “until furher notice” while on-line learning is encourage.
Other authors of the still unnumbered bill are Deputy Speakers Paulo Duterte and Luis Raymund Villafuerte; Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez; Reps. Eric Yap, Michael Defensor, and Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado.
The bill also contains provisions for the management of public transportation, monitoring of schools and learning institutions, monitoring of private commercial and industrial workplaces.
The implementation of the universal and standard safety measures in government offices, as well as the activation of Inter-Local Government Unit Task Forces/Coordinating Councils are included.
Authors said the proposed “New Normal for the Workplace and Public Spaces Act of 2020” is based on the comparative experiences of countries affected by the deadly COVID-19, as well as established measures being implemented by the Inter-Agency Task Force Agaisnt COVID-19 and those that were carried out by local government units that are proving to be effective in mitigating the effects of the pandemic.
“This bill will prepare and educate the Filipino public for life after the lifting of the Covid 19 restricts and to adapt to the new norms of physical distancing,” the House officials said.
Under the bill, wearing of masks in public places and workplaces is mandatory, so is the availability of hand washing/sanitizing stations for areas freqeunted by the pbulic.
Mandatory physical and social distancing is placed at one meter from person to person, but authors stressed that two meters is the ideal space.
Checking of teperature in all enclosed and semi-enclosed areas and procurement of COVID-19 testing kits, personal protective equipment, and establishment of drive-through, phone-in, and no-contact modes of businesses are also mandated.
The bill also proposed “continuous profiling and monitoring of residents.”
Mass gathering “shall be highly regulated” and subject to approval by local government units, if necessary.
For public transporation, motorcycle taxis will remain suspended while passengers in all types of public transport must sanitize their hands prior to boarding.
Wearing of face masks is also required for public transporation.
The bill enjoins local government units to be primarily responsible for instituting localized policies and legislation for the new normal.
Establishment of an e-government system is a must, even as the Department of Information and Communications Technology is enjoined to fastrack and fully implement the National Broadband Program.
Penalties for specific violations of the bill include two-months imprisonment or a fine ranging from P1,000 to P50,000.
Among others, to be subjected to penalties are any public official who will fail to implement and monitor the proper implementation of the provisions of the measure, and business owners, employers of supervisors who will not pursue proper implementation of workplace-specific protocols and measures.