Health protocol-defying firms face closure, revocation of safety seals- DILG

Non-compliant establishments defying health protocol guidelines will be closed and have their safety seals revoked, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya warned on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

In a news briefing, Malaya admitted having personally observed establishments disregarding minimum public health standards (MPHS) and other guidelines under the alert level system warning that their safety seals may be revoked or their business permits suspended for violating coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) safety rules and regulations.

“The department has been receiving numerous complaints from the public about this issue especially about violations on the cap on operational capacity and failure to implement the requirement of fully vaccinated individuals only in indoor establishments allowed to operate like restaurants, amusement parks, recreational venues, fitness studios and gyms, etc.,’’ Malaya said.

“Many restaurants and indoor establishments are not checking the vaccination status of their customers and are violating the 50% operational capacity for indoor establishments and 70% operational capacity of outdoor establishments,” he added.

The DILG spokesperson warned the erring establishments that the government will revoke the safety seals issued to them which will deprive them of the additional 10 percent operational capacity as well as lose the badge of honor that they are compliant with all public health standards against COVID-19.

He added that for repeat violators or those without safety seals, the DILG will recommend the revocation of their business permits issued by the concerned local government units.

Malaya all LGUs and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to conduct more inspections of establishments to ensure compliance with Covid-19 guidelines and for the LGUs to issue show cause orders against the violators.

“We cannot be complacent at this time. Even if cases are going down and vaccination is going up, we cannot put our guard down. Look at Europe, their vaccination rate is high but they are now undergoing a new surge. Vigilance will prevent another surge,” said Malaya.

The Safety Seal program is an inter-agency initiative by the DILG, the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Tourism (DOT) which awards public and private establishments or buildings with a safety seal to be conspicuously displayed indicating that they are compliant with health protocols against COVID-19.

Malaya said that the Safety Seal program addresses two issues: prevention, as it aims to prevent people from getting infected by requiring establishments to comply with MPHS requirements, and consumer confidence, by encouraging the public to visit and patronize business establishments that have been validated to have implemented appropriate health protocols against Covid-19.

“According to Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 21-01, series of 2021, which provides the implementing guidelines of the Safety Seal Certification program, the Safety Seal is valid for six months from the date of issuance, except for those issued to tourism enterprises which shall be valid for one year. It may be revoked by the Issuing Authority if establishments are found to be non-compliant with any of the MPHS during the six months validity of the seal. The Safety Seal features a green check at the center and is outlined by the statement: “This establishment follows safety & health protocols against COVID-19”. It also indicates the Issuing Authority, the date of issuance, and the Safety Seal number. The DILG, DOLE, DOT, DTI, and all LGUs, city or municipality, serve as Issuing Authorities of the Safety Seal. Each Issuing Authority has a different set of establishments for which they can grant the certification. For example, LGUs can issue Safety Seals to malls, wet markets, and other retail stores, while the DILG may grant Safety Seals to city halls, municipal halls, and provincial capitols,’’ the DILG said.

Malaya also sought the public’s assistance to report violations of the MPHS to the concerned issuing authority of the safety seal namely “the DTI, DILG, DOLE, DOT or LGUs so that these can be immediately investigated and the appropriate sanctions issued.’’

Violations by business establishments with safety seals issued by the DILG or LGUs may be reported to the DILG Public Assistance Hotline 892-50343; 892-51144; 09274226300; 09313849272.

Malaya noted that the DILG has directed all LGUs to create Inspection and Certification Teams (ICT) to lead in the granting of the safety seals to establishments compliant with the MPHS.

He pointed out that uniformed personnel of the PNP and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) may also be deputized by LGUs to conduct safety seal inspections if they lack the personnel to do so. (Chito A. Chavez)