DPWH: Construction projects in GCQ areas allowed to resume but with strict guidelines for workers' health

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 3) — Public and private construction projects in areas under general community quarantine will be allowed to resume, but workers need to follow strict safety guidelines to avoid infection.

Department of Public Works and Highwaya (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar told CNN Philippines Sunday of the measures to be put in place at work sites.

"Nakagawa na kami para sa GCQ as of now, makapagtrabaho na kami sa priority projects — both public and private priority projects — and they have to follow very strict guidelines para sa proteksyon ng ating mga construction workers. Katulad po ng testing bago magsimula, tapos po magkakaroon ng facilities para sa disinfection pati sa handwashing, kailangan may social distancing, at magkakaroon po ng barracks bawa't site at doon ma-isolate po ang ating construction workers para wala pong chance magkaroon ng outbreak ng COVID," he said.

[Translation: We have come up with guidelines for the GCQ so we can work on priority projects — both pubic and private — and they have to follow very strict guidelines for the protection of construction workers. Among these are testing before starting work, there will be facilities for disinfection and handwashing, there must be social distancing, and there will be barracks at each site for workers so there will be no chance for COVID to spread.]

Contractors will be the ones to spend for the testing of workers, said Villar, adding they have the resources to do so.

Villar also said workers would stay at the barracks at work sites to avoid possible contagion, and they would be there for the duration of the project. Should workers want to leave and then return, they must be tested again.

There must be enough barracks, Villar said, to comfortably house workers while observing prescribed social distancing guidelines.

"Magiging strict talaga kami sa mga work guidelines of course for the safety, not just of the workers, but also the surrounding community," he said.

[Translation: We will be really strict on the work guidelines not just for the safety of workers but also the surrounding community.]

Other considerations, VIllar said, would be medical certificates assuring that workers have no co-morbidities, and he added age would also be a factor.

"Under the new guidelines, not just for construction sites but in general, people with co-morbidities, existing illness, with some existing conditions. And of course, age is a factor. We want to make sure everyone there is not susceptible to COVID-19," he said.

Contractors, meanwhile, will be monitored to make sure all safety requirements are being met.

All of these, Villar said, will be part of the new normal at construction sites.

As for the projects that will be allowed to continue, Vilalr said they would identify the priority projects they would focus on.