COVID-19 task force requires all establishments to use Stay Safe app
Photo illustration shows a screenshot of the StaySafe.ph app.
Photo illustration by Philstar.com/Rico Alonzo

COVID-19 task force requires all establishments to use Stay Safe app

(Philstar.com) - December 4, 2020 - 11:24am

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 3:47 p.m.) — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is now requiring all establishments to use the government's official contact tracing app. 

In a statement posted Friday, IATF spokesman Harry Roque said that, in addition to government units, private companies, hotels, business establishments and public transportation units are now required to adopt the Safety Seal. 

According to Roque, the requirements for securing a Safety Seal "include the adoption of the Stay Safe application and the generation of its QR Code to be displayed in all entrances." 

Further requirements will be detailed in a memorandum circular which the IATF directed the departments of trade, health, labor, interior, tourism and transportation to issue jointly. 

This bid to consolidate digital contact tracing data comes more than eight months into the pandemic-induced community quarantine. 

Up until now, local government and private establishments generally employed their own contact tracing mechanisms which were not integrated into government systems, muddling efforts to streamline digital contact tracing. 

In a separate resolution issued last week, the IATF mandated that all data collected through digital contact tracing applications used by COVID-19 health facilities accredited by the health department, temporary treatment and monitoring facilities, hospitals, establishments, workplaces, transportation vehicles and hubs, and local government units will be submitted to a centralized contact tracing data repository to be linked and integrated with appropriate lab results.

Once contact tracing data is centralized, it will be linked to the health department’s surveillance and contact tracing platform COVID Kaya or the COVID-19 document repository system.

Concerns have been raised about the efficacy of StaySafe.ph as a contact tracing app, most notably by former Department of Information and Communications Technology Undersecretary Eliseo Rio who warned the government against relying too heavily on the contact tracing app which he said was not equipped with necessary features to cover millions of Filipinos.

To address concerns on privacy, Multisys and the Department of Health signed an agreement to ensure that the app would be compliant with data privacy, confidentiality and cybersecurity laws. 

Tourism department enthused by partial return to indoor business meetings

The move to allow some indoor business meetings was lauded by the Department of Tourism in a statement released Friday. 

“The DOT deems this latest development as very encouraging for the country’s Meetings, Incentives, Conferences Exhibitions (MICE) sector to spur forward and backward linkages in tourism and other sectors concerned," Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said. 

"While the pandemic has taught organizers to embrace technology, some gatherings in a physical set-up can now proceed, with health and safety protocols in place. We are optimistic that the country’s MICE sector shall start to thrive again, with the support of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in crafting the implementing guidelines,” she added. 

While health and safety protocols, such as social distancing, food service, gatekeeping procedure, as well as establishing the conditions for operations of venues would be determined by the DOT and the DTI, Puyat said local government units may also issue additional guidelines containing stricter measures. 

"The DOT shall continuously work on improving our guidelines and policies, making sure that these remain responsive to the changing needs of the industry, as the COVID-19 situation continues to be addressed,” the tourism secretary said. 

— Bella Perez-Rubio with reports from Xave Gregorio and Rosette Adel

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