No dine-in in canteens, common smoking areas in businesses under MECQ

Published August 11, 2020, 5:45 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government has prohibited dine-in operation of canteens and common smoking areas in business establishments located in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease.

These are among the additional health protocols in the workplace to be implemented by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), according to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque.  

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez presented the latest stricter measures to protect the health of workers during a meeting with President Duterte in Davao City Monday.  The new protocols have been approved by the President, Roque said.

“Walang dine-in sa mga canteen. Packed food at delivery lamang po (No dine-in in canteens – only packed food and deliveries),” Roque said during a televised briefing Tuesday.

“Bawal ang common smoking areas. Pinapayagan lang po ang individual smoking areas or booths in open spaces (Common smoking areas are prohibited. Only individual smoking areas or booths in open space are allowed),” he added.

Bigger companies are also expected to provide shuttle service for their employees. There must be no removal of mask and shields inside shuttle, Roque said.

Safe physical distancing must also be observed in the workplace, according to Roque.

He said face mask/shield must be worn when confined inside a room with more than one person, during meetings, and inside shuttle.

Business establishments must enforce other health precautions such as frequent hand washing and temperature checks of workers and guests.

Health protocol officers must be designated while an occupational safety and health protocol committee must be formed to ensure stricter compliance of protocols in the offices.

Roque said workers must also undergo training on the new health protocol standards to help contain the transmission of the disease.

He said the Department of Labor and Employment, DTI and local government units are expected to conduct more company visits and audits to check compliance with the health standards. 

The latest health protocols have been issued after authorities discovered the canteens and smoking areas in workplaces have become hotspots for coronavirus infection.

Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal are under MECQ until August 18 following a recent plea from the health frontliners for a timeout.

As of August 11, the country’s cases of coronavirus soared to 139,538 with 2,312 deaths.