Palace to gov't offices: Follow health protocols; closure of premises reserved for 'unmanageable' virus spread

Government offices may temporarily close their premises only in extreme situations related to the coronavirus outbreak based on a latest Palace directive.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea (File photo/Malacañang)

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued Memorandum Circular No. 86 ordering strict compliance with health protocols in government agencies to curb the coronavirus spread. The circular, signed by Medialdea on May 11, included guidelines on the temporary closure of premises in case the virus spread becomes "unmanageable."

"In all cases, the temporary closure of premises shall be regarded as an extreme measure, reserved for situations where the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace has become overwhelming and unmanageable," the circular read.

In the Palace circular, the head of the agency considering a shutdown of premises must request clearance from the head of the department exercising control or supervision over it. The request must include the proposed duration of the closure and verified data and documents the department deems fit to require.

Also, the temporary closure of branches and regional or field offices can be decided by the head of the concerned department. Measures must also be taken to ensure continuous and uninterrupted delivery of public service.

State agencies that are not under supervision of any department, on the other hand, must get consent from the Office of the President before closure of the office.

The Palace has also prohibited the temporary closure merely to conduct disinfection of premises. "Such activity shall be undertaken after office hours or on weekends," the circular read.

In the same circular, Medialdea directed heads of government agencies of the executive branch to mobilize their "Safety and Health Committees" to strictly enforce and monitor compliance with health protocols in the workplace.

"There is a need to monitor compliance with health protocols in the workplaces of all government agencies and instrumentalities, to mitigate and suppress the spread of COVID-19 in the said areas while ensuring the continuous delivery of public services," it said.

The Palace also warned that administrative sanctions will be imposed for violations of health regulations.

It also urged the legislative, judiciary, independent constitutional commissions and bodies, and local government units to adopt similar health protocol compliance.