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“New Normal” for the Workplace and Public Spaces Act of 2020

Republic of the Philippines HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Quezon City EIGHTEENTH CONGRESS First Regular Session HOUSE BILL NO. __



Section 2. Declaration of Policy. – The resumption of economic and social activities following the implementation of various mechanisms instituting public health, safety, and security measures through community quarantines or forms thereof in order to stem the transmission of the Covid-19 virus requires the institution and establishment of standards and protocols that would simultaneously protect the vulnerable from the disease and prevent transmission from asymptomatic or untested carriers of the virus, while ensuring the restoration of livelihood opportunities and sources of income for all, especially the country’s poor.

Thus, there is an urgent need to:

a) define and allocate roles, responsibilities, and obligations across key social sectors that shall be heavily involved in the implementation of specific and applicable measures – namely the local government, the private sector, the public sector, and individual Filipino citizens;

b) identify standards and protocols in the management of physical spaces – both private, work-related, and public – as well as the allowed and/or prohibited activities and behaviors expected in them;

c) identify physical infrastructure, equipment, and materials that shall facilitate appropriate actions and behavior as well as promote proper information;

d) establish systems of accountability for failure to comply with the obligations and expectations delineated in this Act; and

e) provide operational parameters, guidelines, and recommendations for a “new normal” way of life until such time that the threat of Covid-19 is effectively contained.

Section 3. . Subject to prevailing guidelines of the World Health Organization and of the Department of Health on the effectivity of the following measures, including the consensus of the international medical community on need therefor should the threat of the COVID-19 be subsequently contained or eradicated through a viable vaccine, the standards for “NEW NORMAL” shall be as follows:

3.1. Universal and Mandatory Safety Measures

a. the mandatory wearing of masks in public places and workplaces and the institution of appropriate penalties for violations thereof;

b. the availability of hand washing/sanitizing stations in places frequented by the public or those in high-touch areas;

c. mandatory physical and social distancing measured at least one (1) but preferably two (2) meters between individuals in all public spaces;

d. mandatory temperature checks in all enclosed and semi-enclosed areas and if possible, including open areas in the locality where two or more people shall be gathered;

e. the procurement of and/or establishment as well as causing the authorization for use of Covid-19 testing (including rapid and antibodies testing) kits, personal protective equipment, or testing laboratories or facilities towards the mass-testing of the population including the establishment of drive-through, phone-in, and other contactless modes of testing individuals for the Covid-19 virus;

f. contact-tracing systems for individuals who have been confirmed positive for the Covid-19 virus;

g. the placement of relevant on-site signages and online information materials bearing reminders to practice physical distancing, regular hand washing and sanitizing, medical and health information, updates on local cases and initiatives of the government as well as directions to the appropriate hand washing and sanitizing stations, testing stations or facilities, quarantine facilities, and other such information;

h. the implementation, monitoring, and maintenance of a planned schedule for pedestrians traveling to and from their respective workplaces in coordination with private sector entities within the local government’s territorial jurisdiction and if possible or applicable, the chartering of various means of transporting residents and workers to and from their respective destinations;

i. establishment and proper management of government-operated quarantine facilities in partnership with health authorities for individuals mandated by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and/or the Department of Health (DOH) regulations to undergo mandatory quarantine and cannot undergo the same at their respective places of residence;

j. establishment of various forms of electronic/digital governance (egovernance) mechanisms in coordination with other national government agencies and the private sector as provided for in Sections 5.2 and 5.3 of this Act;

k. continuous profiling and monitoring of residents; and l. continuous implementation of existing measures in dealing with residents or any other individual in the locality who has been confirmed positive for Covid-19 by authorized testing/medical facilities.

3.2. Management of Spaces

a. gatherings as well as the flow of people in government-managed public spaces (public markets, parks, plazas, covered courts, promenades, gymnasiums, arenas, cockpits, amusement and recreation centers, etc.) shall be highly regulated and subject to the guidelines onset and upon issuance of the new normal permit by the local government unit, if necessary; provided that activities of agencies of the national government and/or their provincial or regional divisions for the distribution of all forms of public assistance or the facilitation thereof shall in no way be impeded nor be required a permit; provided further, that gatherings under this category shall observe the Universal and Mandatory Safety Measures enumerated in the preceding section; and provided finally, that local government units shall provide national, regional, and provincial agencies and/or their attached offices assistance to carry out their activities requiring the presence or participation of a significant number of the population;

b. privately-organized gatherings in privately-managed spaces shall be highly regulated and shall be dispersed by the local government unit after determination by authorities that the said gathering is not observing the Universal and Mandatory Safety Measures enumerated above; the local government unit shall enact the necessary and appropriate ordinance to set penalties and/or fines for violators.

3.3. Management of Public Transportation
a. the government shall monitor the implementation of the Universal and Mandatory Safety Measures in the monitoring and management of public transportation queuing/ticketing lines, queuing/ticketing areas/offices, as well as the interiors of the vehicles and their respective passengers/ drivers/conductors;

b. the operation of motorcycle taxis shall remain suspended to prevent the spread of the virus through shared helmets and close physical contact between the passenger and driver;

c. passengers in all types of public transportation vehicles shall be required to wash their hands or sanitize prior to boarding the vehicle and be seated a seat apart and be at all times in face masks;

d. “contact-less” payment mechanisms and other such practices that will minimize the risk of transmission shall be implemented;

e. agencies and/or authorities tasked to manage transport hubs such as airports, ports, harbors, and the like shall coordinate with local government units in the implementation of the Universal and Mandatory Safety Measures enumerated above and shall consider the following special measures:

i. the establishment of public health corridors in airports and ports;

ii. the mandatory taking of body temperatures for all arriving and departing passengers;

iii. the mandatory quarantine (home or in an authorized government facility) of all arriving passengers and the maintenance of a database of information for contact tracing;

iv. the thorough sanitizing and disinfection of all arriving and departing vessels;

v. if possible, the mandatory regular testing of all employees, personnel, staff, and crew attached to vessels and or have assisted passengers; and

vi. if possible and available, the rapid testing of arriving and departing passengers

f. the national government authorities in coordination with the transport sector shall establish “green lanes” in roads, avenues, highways, and other transport infrastructure networks for healthcare, emergency, peace and order, and supply-chain vehicles transporting or delivering individuals, goods, equipment, or in pursuit of services deemed essential and critical.

3.4. Monitoring of Schools and Learning Institutions

a. subject to consultation with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), all classes and school activities, including sports, athletics, cultural, and academic meets, exhibitions, and/or competitions as well as extra-curricular field/exposure trips and exchanges shall remain suspended until further notice without prejudice to the academic freedom and levels of autonomy enjoyed by institutions of higher learning in the governance of their own academic affairs (i.e. grading status, promotion and retention mechanisms, etc.) provided that no student shall be unreasonably penalized for their inability to participate in online means of learning due to issues in connectivity or availability of gadgets or equipment;

b. public and private education institutions including private and public colleges and universities shall prioritize the establishment of online platforms of learning, instruction, and evaluation;

c. funding for the research, curriculum development, monitoring and evaluating, bench marking, and the development of systems for learning continuity during times of crisis shall be made available by the national government and made available for application from among local research institutes, academic organizations, local government units or their school boards as well as individual researchers; and

d. Sangguniang Kabataan officials are mandated to establish information drives and campaigns promoting the measures identified in this Act among the local youth and in coordination with the Council for the Welfare of Children and the National Youth Commission serve as a channel for monitoring the grievances of pupils and students in relation to their academic requirements.

3.5. Monitoring of Private Commercial and Industrial Workplaces

a. The national government, in cooperation with the local government units, shall maintain database profiling of all the private commercial and industrial (and other forms of business) operating in their areas of jurisdiction which shall include information such as the number of employees, working hours, workspace conditions/office floor areas, and the like;

b. all private commercial, industrial, and other forms of business operating within the territorial jurisdiction of the local government unit shall be asked to submit a “New Normal Workforce and Workplace Management Plan” to the local government unit which shall detail the said business’s compliance with the necessary safeguards and the Universal Safety Measures identified above prior to their resumption of operations; provided that essential business operations which have remained open and operational with a skeletal workforce during the Enhance Community Quarantine period shall no longer be required unless they shall increase the number of personnel and workforce in which case the same Plan shall be required of them.

3.6 Activating Inter-Local Government Unit Task Forces/Coordinating Council. The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in coordination with the Covid-19 Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) shall issue appropriate guidelines in the establishment of inter-LGU coordinating councils or activate existing councils composed of adjacent LGUs within their respective provinces or regions to harmonize the localization and implementation of policies identified in this Act.

3.7. Implementation of the Universal and Standard Safety Measures to Government Offices. All government agencies/offices shall implement with the same stringency required of the Universal and Standard Safety Measures for the New Normal enumerated in Section 3.1 of this Act.

Section 4. The Role of Local Government Units. – Local government units shall in their respective territorial jurisdictions be primarily responsible for instituting localized policies and legislation in the implementation and monitoring of the “new normal” practices instituted in this Act and defined in Section 3 hereof and other directives and issuances of the National Government related to the same subject. The Local Government unit has the following responsibilities:

a. the LGU may enact the necessary and appropriate ordinance for the local implementation of the provisions of this Act;

b. the LGU shall ensure the proper implementation of the provisions of this Act within their respective territorial jurisdiction;

c. the LGU shall collect all the “New Normal Workforce and Workplace Management Plan” to be submitted by the private companies and establishments;

d. the LGU shall orient the applicant of the guidelines on the management of spaces as mentioned in Section 3.2 of this Act, before issuing the new normal permit for social gathering which it may find essential and exemplary during this time of pandemic and shall maintain the implementation of such throughout the entire gathering.

e. Local government transportation office, in cooperation with or assistance of the Land Transportation Office shall initiate information campaigns with the respective transportation schemes in their localities in accordance to Section 3.3 of this Act;

f. the LGU, in coordination with Department of Health (DoH) shall provide immediate assistance to the reported COVID-confirmed resident patient.

g. Local government units shall establish the Inter-Local Government Unit Task Force in accordance to the appropriate guidelines of the national government, specifically the DILG as mentioned in Section 3.6 of this Act.

Section 5. Workplace-Specific Protocols and Measures. In addition to the Universal and Mandatory Safety Measures stipulated in Section 3 of this Act, and subject to prevailing guidelines of the World Health Organization and of the Department of Health on the effectivity of the following measures, including the consensus of the international medical community on need therefor should the threat of the COVID-19 be subsequently contained or eradicated through a viable vaccine, the following should also be implemented in: a. Food Service Workplaces (Restaurants, Cafes, Fastfoods, etc.):

i. resume operations with take-out/delivery service only and gradually re-introduce dine-ins

ii. cut back on food items and temporarily discontinue buffets and salad bar service

iii. create more spaces in the dining area and maintain two-meter distances between tables when dine-in service resumes

iv. provide disposable (non-shared) menu booklets

v. provide alcohol-based wipes for patrons and/or touchless soap dispensers in wash areas

vi. promote contactless service for dine-in patrons

vii. provide disposable cutlery and wash non-disposable cutlery with effective soap solutions on warm water

viii. mark spacing distances in food centers with queue lines

ix. frequently disinfect common spaces

b. Commercial Stores and Centers (Banks, Boutiques, Groceries, Supermarkets, Shopping Malls, etc.)

i. establish a maximum number of people inside the store/shop/center/ mall at any given time and limit entry/ingress points

ii. promote online transactions and shopping services

iii. implement cashless and/or contact-less sales and customer service

iv. frequently sanitize/disinfect items for sale and other high-touch objects in the store/shop

c. Offices in Buildings (Call Centers, Standard Offices)

i. limit the number of people who use elevators

ii. put markers on carpets and other flooring materials to create visual boundaries around desks, plexiglass shields between desks that face each other and signs that direct walking traffic in a single direction

iii. tape off areas to promote physical and social distancing – especially in elevators

iv. put more vending machines instead of opening cafeterias

v. discourage physical meetings and implement online/livestream methods of communication

d. Salons, Parlors, and Spas, upon the the resumption of operation, where person-to-person contact is unavoidable, the following must be strictly complied with:

i. Frequent handwashing and sanitizing of salon tools used

ii. Mandatory using of face mask and gloves

iii. Apply best cleaning and disinfection practices in the facility repeatedly

iv. Implement protocols and policies on sick employees and clients with flu-like symptoms and have fungal infections

d. Construction Sites, Factories, and Related Industrial Workplaces Workstations

i. adjust on-site and production schedules

ii. conduct consultative dialogues between owners, managers, supervisors, and construction workers and agree on collaboratively determined work and/or production schedules

iii. provide mechanisms for work-site mobility and transportation

iv. limit the use of co-workers’ tools and equipment v. monitor and implement individualized shifts for the use of equipment, vehicles, tools, and other construction materials

e. Schools, Colleges, Universities, and Other Learning/Training Institutions

i. integrate online classes in the curriculum and promote creative ways of student learning and engagement without physical contact and/or reporting to the classroom

ii. provide staggered school days and smaller class sizes if and when on-site classes resume

iii. implement changes to assemblies, physical education, and recess if and when on-site classes resume

iv. establish floor plans conducive to physical distancing

v. provide daily temperature checks for students and staff, as well as weekly health check ups

Section 6. The Role of the Private Sector-The New Normal Workforce and Workplace Management Plan must be implemented in their respective workplace in addition to the measures provided for under Section 5 of this Act.

a. all private sector entities including non-profit organizations, charities, and the like, must submit and cause the publication (in English, Filipino, or the appropriate vernacular of use) and distribution to employees of their respective company and/or office-specific the new normal workforce and workplace management plan which shall be submitted to the government through the immediate local government unit which exercises territorial jurisdiction over their workplace prior to resumption of operations; failure to submit the said plan as well as failure to abide by the provisions laid out in the said plan shall give the concerned cause to impose appropriate sanctions pursuant to this act or other existing laws;

b. this New Normal Workforce and Workplace Management Plan shall detail, among others:

i. the total number of employees in the specific workplace/ office/branch covered by the plan;

ii. the overall strategy for the reporting of the workforce (which may be on rotational, staggered, tele-commuting, remote/work-fromhome basis) including the relevant time specifications and periods as well number of workforce ingress and egress (time-in/timeout);

iii. the total number of workers at any given time in the workplace/office on a daily basis;

iv. if applicable, the number of workers per area of space and the spacing mechanisms to be implemented in compliance with physical distancing protocols;

v. the mechanisms for maintaining personal hygiene and cleanliness among the employees and in workstations/areas including the availability of hand washing or hand sanitizing implements;

vi. the physical changes in space management introduced (or to be introduced) in the workplaces to protect employees and implement physical distancing such as plastic barriers between customers and personnel or between and among customers or other individuals within the workplace;

vii. the signages, reminders, and other information installed or posted in key areas of the workplace to serve as constant reminders for workers to practice the mandatory safety behavior and actions;

viii. the mechanisms for maintaining physical distancing in communally shared areas in the workplace (i.e. cafeterias, restrooms, conference rooms, etc.) including safeguards (which may mean, the prohibition) of sharing of tools, implements, utensils, equipment, and supplies;

ix. the physical and personal protective equipment provided or to be provided by the private entity to their respective employees in order to inclusively implement the practices mandated in this Act;

x. the mechanisms for managing employees exhibiting symptoms and/or confirmed to have tested positive for Covid-19 including the company/business unit’s system for contact tracing from within and among other employees; and

xi. other relevant information that may be determined and included in the Implementing Rules and Regulations of this Act. c. as much as possible, all employees entering a building or an area to report for work shall be subjected to a thermal/temperature scan prior to being allowed entry whereas employees whose recorded body temperature render them suspect for symptoms of Covid-19 shall be asked to undergo the necessary quarantine or subjected to the appropriate healthcare in coordination with authorized medical facilities and/or advise;

d. if possible, private entities resuming their operations and requiring the physical presence of their employee subject to their workforce and workplace management plan shall provide shuttle or transportation services under the conditions applicable to public transportation service providers; and

e. if applicable, private entities must provide adequate personal protective equipment to employees in need of such, including the mandatory face masks and/or hand washing/hand sanitizing implements for employees who cannot provide for themselves.

f. There shall be an employee case management protocol which shall be as follows:

i. all employees who report any form of sickness – symptomatic or not of Covid-19 – shall not be allowed/required to report for work;

ii. employees under monitoring and under investigation – those exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 shall be absolutely prohibited from reporting to work until they can provide a clearance from an authorized medical/health facility; and

iii. the employer or supervisor/manager of the employee who has tested positive for Covid-19 shall be primarily responsible for instituting vigorous contact tracing of the other employees who have come into contact with the employee who tested positive and shall be made to report the same to the relevant government authorities.

Section 7. Specific Responsibilities of Particular National Government Offices, Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) and Attached Agencies of these National Government Offices and their Regional/Provincial and Local Offices/Divisions.

7.1. Fast-Tracking and Full Implementation of Republic Act No. 11055 (Philippine Identification System Act). The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) including all government agencies mandated under this law to implement the same are hereby ordered to fast-track and fully implement its provisions to facilitate the profiling, contact-tracing, and distribution of forms of assistance under the “new normal” period after the lifting of measures under the Enhanced Community Quarantine.

7.2. Fast-Tracking and Full Implementation of the National Broadband Program. The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is hereby mandated under this Act to expedite and fully implement a national broadband program which shall serve as the backbone infrastructure of the movement of essential and significant public and private transactions (including learning/instruction) to digital spaces and online channels of communication.

a. The DICT is further mandated to implement programs that shall facilitate the setting-up of online, internet-based systems and platforms in offices of the public sector across all levels b. The DICT is also mandated to assist public sector offices and agencies in the upgrading of their existing internet infrastructure c. The DICT in coordination with other government agencies shall also establish learning modules and instructional materials to assist public sector employees, and if possible, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the use of relevant technological and digital platforms that can assist in the various cycles of their business model.

7.3. Establishment of E-Government Systems. Public sector offices and agencies shall develop, introduce, and implement a system for facilitating government transactions thru various online channels or contact-less mechanisms. This includes the uploading of pertinent government forms and their completion and/or submission thru websites or online portals in order to minimize the need for face-to-face physical travels or visits to government offices. Government agencies are hereby mandated to focus on creative adaptive technology towards digital governance.

a. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in coordination with the DICT is hereby mandated to establish a program for small and medium enterprises integrating them into channels and platforms for the conduct of e-commerce activities.

b. The DTI in coordination with the DICT and the Department of Health (DoH) shall also promote the shifting, prioritization, or increase in government support or funding for manufacturing industries including small and medium enterprises engaged in the production of healthcare, hygiene, and safety related goods due to increased consumer health consciousness due to the pandemic and the establishment of real-time online channels of information exchange between private hospitals and medical facilities in the supply, demand, and procurement of the same.

c. The DICT in coordination with the DoH shall also promote research towards the development and establishment of an online system or the creation of a digital/phone-based application (downloadable by the public) for case monitoring, mapping, and contact-tracing that shall be integrated with global positioning system (GPS) activated real-time technologies to alert the user of location-based risks and provide the user with updated and constant reminders and information for their health and safety.

d. The Government Online Payment System must be fully applied. An internet based electronic payment facility and gateway that will enable the citizens and businesses to remit payments electronically to government agencies shall be created. Government offices that are already partially applying this kind of digitized payment mechanism must improve the current system used in order to accommodate increased number of transactions. e. Citizen Frontline Delivery Services. Services that are needed to facilitate business registration-related transactions shall be made efficient by integrating all agencies involved in business registration such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Social Security System (SSS), Home Development Mutual Fund (PagIBIG), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHILHEALTH), Local Government Units (LGUs), and other permit/license issuing agencies. f. There must be a procurement system which is an online and real-time service that encompasses all procurement processes involving bidding, contract agreements, and payment for services or supplies shall also be developed.

Section 8. Penalties – In addition to acts or omissions already penalized by existing laws, the following offenses committed during the effectivity of the New Normal measures provided in accordance with this Act shall be punishable by imprisonment of two (2) months or a fine of not less than one thousand pesos (PHP1,000) but not more than fifty thousand pesos (PHP 50,000), or both, such imprisonment and fine, at the discretion of the court;

a. Any official of the government who shall fail to implement and monitor proper implementation of the provisions of this Act.

b. Any individual who shall fail to wear mask while in pubic place shall be issued citation tickets with corresponding one thousand pesos (PHP1,000) fine or render 1-day mandatory community service;

c. Failure of any government official who is in charge of government-owned or leased public places, any owner and possessor of privately-owned public places and establishments, and any event organizer of any social gathering to comply with the provisions on the management of spaces required in Section 3.2 of this Act;

d. Failure of any official from government office/agencies/authorities, government owned and/or controlled corporations (GOCC), private corporation, and local government in charge of administration of public transportation to implement and monitor the proper implementation of Management of Public Transportation provided for under Section 3.3 of this Act;

e. Failure of the Administrators, Directors, Principals and Head of Local Schools and other Learning Institutions to comply with Section 3.4(b) and other issuances, circulars, memorandum and directives of DepED and CHED in relation to the holding of classes during Covid-19 pandemic situation;

f. Failure of the business owner, employer, supervisor/manager or any person in charge to implement and monitor the proper implementation of Workplace-Specific Protocols and Measures mentioned in Section 5 of this Act;

g. Any owner, general manager, supervising officer or any officer in charge of the submission of “The New Normal Workforce and Workplace Management Plan” of all private commercial, industrial entities who shall fail to submit the management plan within the period required in Section 6(a) of this Act;

h. Failure of the employer, supervisor/manager or any person in charge to abide by the Case Management Protocols as provided for in Section 6(f) of This Act.

Section 9. A technical working group composed of the Secretaries (or the duly authorized representatives) of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Finance (DoF), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Head of the Covid-19 Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) shall be established within 15 days from the publication of this Act to craft its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

Section 10. The Congressional Oversight Committee on the Implementation of the Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan To Heal as One Act of 2020 shall maintain oversight function over the implementation of this Act and shall monitor its implementation in local government units across the country.

Section 11. Sunset Clause. – This Act shall expire after a three-year period from the date of its effectivity, or sooner upon official declaration of the President of the Philippines issued by upon recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging and Infectious Diseases that the prevailing guidelines of the World Health Organization and the consensus of the international medical community conclusively show that a viable vaccine has contained or eradicated COVID-19.

Section 12. Separability Clause. – If, for any reason or reasons, any part or provision of this Act shall be declared as unconstitutional or invalid, the other parts or provisions hereof which are not affected thereby shall continue to be in full force and effect.

Section 13. Repealing Clause. – All provisions of existing laws, orders, rules and regulations or parts thereof which are in conflict or inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed, amended or modified accordingly.

Section 14. Effectivity. – This Act shall take effect immediately upon its publication in the Official Gazette or in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines.

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