How a Mass Events business Survived COVID – with Suggestions

Published September 30, 2020, 7:26 PM

by Jonathan Castillo

Written by Wilson Chua

Hanz Zi of Hakka Modern Asian Cuisine Restaurant faced a crisis. When COVID hit, the government issued strict lockdown measures. This limited all mass gatherings. Their main revenue source dried up with limits on mass events.  Hanz recalls their painful decision to close – albeit temporarily. And even while they struggled with meeting payroll, they did something unusual. They focused on their community.   

Acts of random kindness

Hakka decided to support the frontliners in Las Pinas. They provided packed foods for the medical staff. Little did they know that this act of kindness would soon open new doors for them. In his own words “Mahirap uncle, but I’m happy that we are hanging on and still able to give jobs to our employees and hopefully to others who also lost their livelihoods”. 

With partner Steven Claros, Hakka leverage their packed foods operations to pivot away from dine-in. The packed food operations sustained them for another 4.5 months. Their staff bonded together towards a common goal. And they faced the crisis head-on. All the “pagod, puyat, nalilipasan ng gutom” was worth it as “… masarap ang feeling knowing that ‘thousands of people were served”

For Hakka, the lockdowns helped speedup their digital transformation. COVID forced them to innovate. They put up a Facebook page for promoting their products.  Hakka uses Food Panda, GrabFood, and Delirush for deliveries. They used G-Cash and accepts credit cards now as payments. An e-commerce website is in the works. 

New Challenges Mean New Approaches

The COVID epidemic required additional measures. When the lockdown made it hard for their staff to come in to work, Hanz and Steven took care of them. They provided temporary housing to most of their staff. These spared them from the daily grind of commuting. It also reduced their staffs’ potential exposures to Covid. 

The workplace needs to be safe for both staff and clients. For workplace safety, they have temperature screenings. Employees also get vitamins, face masks and even regular rapid testing. So far, these measures seem to work as of this writing, none of them got infected.

HR Policies that stop the chain of transmission

Something strange was happening in other workplaces. I share the chart below where positive cases (from another case study) were plotted across the X axis based on the onset of their infections window. 

Note that Case #23 had earlier onset of symptoms but was detected only later by the company. Case #23 likely infected others. Case #23 should have stayed at home and stopped the chain of infections.

Hakka’s HR policy wisely gave sick employees a two-week sick leave. People not feeling well would not feel compelled to go to work. This would stop the chain of infection in the workplace. In addition, Hakka dutifully reports sick employees to City Hall. I can’t stress this enough: Companies need to revisit their HR policies to ensure sick people stay at home.

Workplace practices that makes sense

Hanz and Steven, may I share some extra steps to further increase safety for your staff and your clients? 

  • Digitize the daily health self-reporting for each staff (try
  • Digitize visitor logbooks using QRcode scanning (try I am Safe app)
  • Use analytics to help identify potential cases EARLIER and isolate them

Let me share the insights behind these.  Positive cases wait about 4.9 days BEFORE they get tested. Andrei Diamante’s visual highlights this point. It is based on DOH data.

People cling to the hope that what they have is the common flu or cough. So, they wait. In those 5 days, these untreated positive cases pass the virus to the next generation. Thus, this delay contributes to the further spread of the virus. But you can counter this. Monitor the health status of your workforce daily. Anyone reporting symptoms should be encouraged to stay home. 

For most businesses, the symptoms get listed down on paper. However paper-based systems add an extra layer of effort. It introduces transcription errors too. So, my advice is to go digital in capturing health information. Try for this purpose. Digitized health information flags problem cases faster. We gain valuable time by looking at the daily health reporting. We can spot potential cases earlier. We look out for certain combination of symptoms like the ones below:

We notice Employee 31438588565 (in blue) suffers from several symptoms. These include Chills, Breathing difficulty, sore throat AND cough for a few days now. We need to investigate this. We need to isolate this employee if warranted. 

Next point is the advanced contact tracing. 

Businesses now are required to do contact tracing. We keep track of visitor and workforce movements with visitor logbooks. We have some concerns with this. 

Logbooks may be a source of infection. They do not warn businesses when a PUM/PUI is attempting to enter your premises. Handwriting may be hard to read. The supplied information may be faked. Business can digitize this logbook. And QRcode based scanning of access points may be one solution.

The good news is that it is easier now to install QRCode scanning. Last week, DTI Region 7 held a pitching competition. No less than 10 companies participated. See FB video:

Pitch Party: Contact Tracing Applications

Listen in on DTI Region 7's Ready to Recover, Contact Tracing Applications Pitch Party and learn what applications you can use for your business for your customers' and your business' safety! Show your support by watching here: and let's get the party started!The start-up companies and representatives who will be pitching their contact tracing applications are:- Ruby De Luzuriaga from Spring Valley Technology Corp. to present Clear Pass- RG Ong from BQ Megabyte, Inc. to present CoScan- Tzar Umang and Gerone Tolentino from TMDC IT Solutions to present I Am Safe- Mike Cubos from RideHero to present OpenGov- Connie Barientos-Carey from Creative Crest and Aleph Talent Solutions to present QR City- Cupid Bercero from Travelpud, Inc. to present Radar- Ryan Tan Yu and Kimson Wong from KODA Kollectiv to present TapTrace- Maryanne Apale from Genii Hut Technologies Corporation to present WeScan- Gaudencio Tabinas, Jr. from Zetta Solutions Inc. to present ZTrace- Paulo Uy from Cebu Digital to present KeepSafe#ReadytoRecover

Posted by DTI Region 7 Central Visayas on Thursday, September 24, 2020

Collecting and aggregating these data is half the battle. Your next step is to analyze them. This video courtesy of Dominic Ligot of  Data Ethics shows why and how to do it: 

Data analysis offers smarter ways for you to increase your operational safety. I share one example. This graphic output is from Neo4J Bloom. We use simple English sentence to display the exposed contacts (in pink) given a positive case (in Red, 81). 

Obviously, for analysis to take place the data needs to be in digital form. It needs also to be consistent. And this brings us to our appeal to the IATF.

A call to action for IATF 

Mandating interoperability can improve Digital methods like QRCodes and Digital Health reporting. The IATF can set guidelines. One way is for the apps to use the same ID for each person. This way, each person’s ID and QRcode will always be the same no matter which application is used. For this purpose, I suggest we use Philhealth ID. Each person’s activity will be matched up perfectly.  LGUs benefit from faster contact tracing as they merge QRcode data. LGUs can trace all close contacts from different QR scan apps.  With the QRcode data, they can publish all the places that positive cases went to. I have always thought Singapore was SMART to name such places. The community is alerted right away if they were in the SAME places at around the same time. We cut the information delay. We also reduce the chain of infection. 

I’d love to know your views on this. Please comment and share.