Task force sets guidelines for malls and offices in GCQ areas
This May 7, 2020 photo shows an office in the Bonifacio Global City district of Taguig City.
Task force sets guidelines for malls and offices in GCQ areas
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - May 7, 2020 - 5:30pm

MANILA, Philippines — Under the 'new normal,' there will be no sale events or free Wi-Fi in malls and office spaces will be redesigned to observe social distancing.

These are some of the changes to be observed in areas under the more lenient general community quarantine (GCQ) based on the guidelines approved recently by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The guidelines seek to minimize contract and to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Under the guidelines on malls and shopping centers in GCQ areas, foot traffic will be monitored and safe distancing will be enforced by limiting the number of people inside the establishment to a density of not more than one person per two square meters.

Open entrances will also be reduced and only one companion for senior citizens, pregnant women, and persons with disabilities will be allowed.

Malls will also be required to ensure one-meter social distancing and to assign personnel in high density areas.  

Even the use of escalators and elevators will be governed by social distancing measures.

Mall administrators should ensure that people will stand on every other step if escalators and elevator access will be limited to senior citizens, persons with disabilities and pregnant women. The total passengers of the elevator should only be half of the original standard capacity.

Seats available for waiting should be marked or reduced and a one-way flow should be created to decongest queues and facilitate movement. Police visibility will also be increased  

Malls and shopping centers should also designate a central pick-up location for delivery service providers and regulate air-conditioning to 26 degrees centigrade. They should also turn off free Wi-Fi and suspend sale events, marketing events, and other promotions that tend to attract large crowds.

"If the malls are cool and there is Wi-Fi, people would linger," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing Thursday.

Malls are also asked to implement other necessary measures including setting up express lanes for consumers.

Workspace guidelines

Roque said the IATF has also approved the interim workspace guidelines proposed by the trade and labor departments.

Under the guidelines, companies should explore alternative work arrangements like working-hour shifts, work from home where feasible and on a rotation basis. Prolonged face-to-face interaction between workers and clients are discouraged and masks should be worn at all times.

Meetings that require physical presence shall be kept to a minimum number of participants and with short durations while videoconferencing will be used for lengthy discussions among workers.

Even the workplace setup will have to be changed to ensure safe and proper physical distance among workers. Office tables should be arranged and barriers may be provided between tables.  

"Our work stations’ layout should be redesigned so that there would only be one direction when it comes to the movement in aisles, corridors or walkways. In other words, one-way street," Roque said.

The number of people inside an enclosed space such as a room, store, or hall should also be limited.

The number of persons who will use the elevator should also be limited to observe the one-meter physical distancing.

Use of stairs should be encouraged but it should also comply with physical distancing requirements. If more than two stairways are accessible, one stairway may be used exclusively for going up and another for going down.

Companies are highly encouraged to use online system including video conferencing for clients who need assistance from offices. Roving officers will be tapped to ensure physical distancing and observance of minimum health protocols.

Other measures

Roque said the IATF has also approved a food security framework and food safety guidelines for the agriculture and fishery sectors. The task force has also adopted the recommendations of the National Economic and Development Authority's recommendations on managing supply chain issues.

They include the creation of the sub-task group for supply chain, the launching of the supply chain analytics (SCAN) IATF reporter mobile application, and the development of SCAN dispatch optimization sub-dashboard for medical supplies.

The interior department has also been directed to assist the transportation department in coordinating with local governments for the return of stranded students to their provinces.

A sub-technical working group led by the health department will also convene to propose a national framework to increase the physical and mental resilience of the public.

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