Palace reduces on-site operation capacity for gov't offices in GCQ areas

Palace reduces on-site operation capacity for gov't offices in GCQ areas
Passengers bound to their respective destination line up at EDSA carousel bus station in Caloocan City on March 17, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Malacañang has ordered a reduction of on-site capacity in government offices in general community quarantine areas amid “alarming increase” in daily COVID-19 new cases.

The STAR reported that Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea has issued Memorandum Circular 85 ordering a reduction of workforce reporting on-site of government offices from March 22 to April 4.

The circular directs that all government agencies under the executive branch, including government-owned and –controlled operations in GCQ areas, shall observe minimum of 30% and maximum of 50% operational capacity.

Agencies providing health and emergency frontline services, border control and critical services needing higher operation capacity may be exempted from this.

Medialdea also ordered government agencies to adopt alternative work arrangements to ensure that delivery of services will not be hampered.

Should government offices be forced to lockdown their premises due to COVID-19 threat, the executive secretary said heads of agencies shall submit a request for clearance to the Office of the President. The request shall include duration of physical closure of office, supported by verified data.

“No closure shall be implemented until such clearance is obtained from the [OP]. Any violation of this directive, including misrepresentation as to the data in support of the request for clearance, shall subject the head of agency to administrative sanctions,” Medialdea added.

This week alone, the COVID-19 threat has forced several government offices closed for disinfection to curb its spread. Among these are the Department of Education, Justice and Social Welfare and Development, and the National Economic Development Authority.

Medialdea also “strongly urged” the legislative and executive branches, independent constitutional commissions and bodies, and local government units in areas under GCQ adopt the provisions of the directive.

Earlier on Friday, the government also suspended the operations of driving schools, traditional cinemas, arcades, libraries, archives, museums and cultural centers in areas under general community quarantine for two weeks. Venue capacity of dine-in restaurants, cafes and establishments offering personal care services will be lowered to 50%, while religious gatherings will also be limited to 30-percent venue capacity.

Health authorities on Friday logged the highest single-day increase of new COVID-19 cases, since the pandemic last year. They logged 7,103 new infections, bringing national tally to 648,066. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Gaea Katreena Cabico



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