Some reopening businesses may require health declaration, COVID-19 testing for employees – DTI

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 30)— Some companies, slated to reopen under the new general community quarantine rules, may require health declaration and even COVID-19 testing for their employees, the Trade Department said Thursday.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told CNN Philippines that while testing for employees is not mandatory, some companies have already started "making arrangements" on the move.

"Some would require their employees or workers to have the testing first, some are not. Ang importante doon (the important thing is), they have to make sure that only the healthy workers will be allowed inside," Lopez said in an interview with The Source, stressing how the government is prioritizing the testing for suspected or probable COVID-19 patients.

"Some are making arrangements. Some are covering for their expenses, some will charge it to PhilHealth. Depende sa coverage noong mga health insurance nila (it depends on the companies' health insurance coverage)," he added.

Lopez earlier disclosed that some private sector firms have pledged to set up their own testing facilities for employees, in a bid to ramp up the country's testing capacity.

The Trade chief added that some reopening companies may also hand out health history forms to workers prior to resumption of operations, in an effort to secure health safety in the workplace.

"That will now be a new norm practice moving forward— filling up certain forms, whether nakatabi ng (came in contact with) COVID positive, or there are some exposure, or if they're not feeling well," Lopez said.

While the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and other high-risk COVID-19 areas has been extended, other regions and provinces will slowly start to reopen their economy under the general community quarantine.

Under the GCQ, select industries— such as manufacturing, retail, malls (essential, non-leisure stores), food and beverages, and electricity , among others— will be allowed to open, but still subject to health standards. Construction work and activities under the government's flagship infrastructure program "Build, Build, Build" may also resume.

Lopez said the companies and services would still have to practice strict health protocols including social distancing, temperature scanning, and setting up of sanitation stations. Stores inside malls will also impose maximum capacity of customers, he added.

Roving officers will likewise be deployed to make sure citizens are practicing social distancing.

Lopez noted the agency, together with the Labor and Health departments, will be finalizing a set of guidelines for reopening companies to follow amid the disease pandemic.