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Cebu business group leaders urge members to adopt, implement new safety and health standards

By: Rosalie O. Abatayo - CDN Digital | May 19,2020 - 03:58 PM

SAFETY STANDARDS. Business groups in Cebu urged their members to rethink and re-do their health and safety protocols in preparation for their possible reopening once the ECQ here is lifted. CDN Digital photo | Brian J. Ochoa

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Business group leaders in Cebu have called on their members to brace for the reopening of businesses by adopting and implementing new safety and health standards in their workplaces amid the prevailing threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This as they anticipate the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine and possible reopening of businesses in the cities of Cebu and Mandaue on June 1, 2020.

With two weeks to go before the expected “expiry” of the ECQ on May 31, the corporate leaders said the business sector still have enough time to put in place new health and safety standards as they “usher in the new normal brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.”

The new health standards will bring back our priorities and will make people value living with families. There will be an inertia towards the hope. Workplace health standards will be the crux of the safety and health protocols of businesses,” Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Steven Alain Yu said.

On Tuesday, May 19, the MCCI, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Cebu Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) Cebu Chapter participated in a joint press conference for the private sector’s participation in the Project Balik-Buhay, a multi-sectoral initiative for reviving the community and the economy from the effects of COVID-19.

‘Applying the new health standards in the workplace is important to minimize, if not eradicate, the risk of infection and virus spread in the workplace, the homes that the employees go to, and the customers that they serve’

Workers productivity and safety could be compromised by the prevailing uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and a safe working environment plays a vital role in reducing this,” Yu said.

“Applying the new health standards in the workplace is important to minimize, if not eradicate, the risk of infection and virus spread in the workplace, the homes that the employees go to, and the customers that they serve,” he added.

PRA Cebu Chapter President Chester Lim, for his part, said establishing and implementing safety protocols is a test of “good stewardship and responsible leadership” among business owners.

Lim lamented the news that there were businesses in the National Capital Region that allegedly did not follow safety protocols when some businesses reopened as the area transitioned to ECQ.

It was disheartening to see that some of the shops were not following protocols and guidelines. I hope that will not happen in Cebu,” Lim said.

CCCI President Felix Taguiam said the surviving the pandemic and its blows against the people and the economy depends on the ability to balance out the health measures as well as reviving the economy in order to provide livelihoods for the people.

Our survival as a people depends on our ability to balance health measures, prevention, control and treatment of the virus, and resumption of economic activities to provide livelihood to our people,” Taguiam said.

We cannot simply just wait until the virus has completely eradicated. We need to live with the unseen enemy… We are asking all our members. We have two weeks to re-do our workplace environment. Let us open up gradually, safely, and let us go back to business,” he added.

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Earlier in the Project Balik-Buhay launching last April 29, Regional Development Council (RDC-7) Chair Kenneth Cobonpue said the mandatory testing of employees will be the private sector’s counterpart in the PBB.

However, the Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) ordered otherwise and said that testing the employees is not among the requirements for them to return to work.

The Department of Health earlier said their guidelines for employers are focused on symptomatic screening and to test only those that have symptoms. /bmjo

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