Gov't counting on 'safety seals' in stores to get customers back

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 23) – The government is looking to allay people's fear of heading out by issuing safety stickers to establishments compliant with health protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Five Cabinet members on Friday signed Joint Memorandum Circular 21-01 to put in place a Safety Seal Certification Program to vouch for businesses.

To avail, a store must have its business permits in order, use the government's platform for contact tracing, and observe minimum health standards at all times. This means strict social distancing, proper ventilation, and the wearing of masks and face shields within the premises.

The following agencies will be in charge of inspecting the facilities of the applicant for compliance to health protocols:

The safety seal, which will be posted on store entrances, will not be a requirement, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said. However, this could leave establishments without it at a disadvantage.

"'Yung mga meron niyan, at least alam na ng mga tao even without asking malayo pa lang makita na nya na: dito, safe dito," Lopez said during the virtual briefing. "It could be a marketing strategy din ng mga companies na pang-attract din ito ng customers nila."

[Translation: Those that have the seal, people will know from a distance, even without asking, that this place is safe. It could also be a marketing strategy for companies to attract customers.]

The issuance of safety seals has been part of DTI's plans since 2020 but only pushed through now.

Companies should also conduct temperature checks on all employees and visitors entering the store, provide hand washing and sanitation stations, and implement regular disinfection especially for high-touch surfaces like chairs and door knobs.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who recently returned from a medical leave after battling the coronavirus twice, added the seal is valid for 6 months for most establishments and 1 year for tourism enterprises, but may be revoked at any time for health protocol breaches. Surprise inspections may be done to ensure continued compliance.

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