INTERIOR Secretary Eduardo Año yesterday warned owners of shopping malls and resorts their business permits can be suspended if they allow the violation of health protocols within their establishments.
Año, a key member of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), noted reports of high incidence of protocol violations in the establishments amid the flurry of holiday season preparations and after lockdown rules were relaxed by the government.
Año said Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander Lt. Gen. Cesar Binag will hold a dialogue with owners of resorts, shopping mall and other establishments in the coming days to remind them of their obligations amid the pandemic.
“If they are not going to follow, their business permits will be suspended,” said Año, stressing that “you have a responsibility within your establishment to implement the minimum health standards and health protocols.”
The basic health protocols include the wearing of face mask and observance of physical distancing. Most malls also require mall goers to wear face shields while inside the mall premises.
Año said mall and resort owners cannot leave the job of enforcing the health protocols solely to the police and local government units.
Apart from the suspension of business permits, Año said mall and resorts owners may be held criminally liable for the violations.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque reminded the public, especially “local tourists” and those in the tourism industry, to continue abiding by the minimum health protocols following reports that some people are disregarding the safety standards and even falsifying coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test results to be able to go out and travel.
“We reopened the tourism industry because there are many people from that sector who are hungry but it does not mean that we will ignore the proven measures to slow down the spread of COVID-19 – mask, wash, avoid,” Roque said.
Authorities recently arrested six people in Boracay after falsifying their PCR test results.
Negative PCR test results are required of tourists who visit the island resort.
The Department of Health (DOH) yesterday recommended suggested that face masks and face shields be considered in the top list of Christmas gift ideas during the Christmas season.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said: “When planning for the holiday gift-giving, think of gifts that can make them safe. One thing we recommend are face masks and face shields, which may serve as a constant reminder to the recipient to wear one.”
Also in the DOH’s list are healthy food and fruits, as well as exercise gadgets/equipment that promote physical activity and help improve body resistance against diseases.
“This Christmas, let us be creative by providing our loved ones with gifts that promote a healthy lifestyle or can help improve their health condition,” said Duque.
The health chief added that it also encourages giving loved ones do-it-yourself gifts, such as handmade cards, arts and crafts, or a video greeting, in order to lessen the need to go shopping.
“Such gifts make it more personal and also keep you from going to crowded places, thus reducing the risk of acquiring or transmitting the virus,” said Duque.
The DOH has identified shopping in bazaars, tiangges, and malls as among the high-risk activities this Christmas season.
As for the New Year revelry, the DOH yesterday warned the public against using trumpets and whistles to make loud noises to welcome 2021.
Speaking at the virtual launch of the Iwas Paputok Campaign 2020, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said that, unlike in previous New Year celebrations, they won’t be recommending the use of whistles and trumpets because using these will go in contrast with existing health protocols, particularly the use of face masks and face shields.
“What is new for this year is we don’t recommend the use of noisemakers using the mouth that will cause the transfer of saliva, like whistles and trumpets,” said Cabotaje, adding: “Given the pandemic, we must continue to adhere to minimum health standards, such as use of face masks, sanitizing hands, and maintinaing social distancing.”
In the past, whistles and trumpets are among the items promoted by the DOH to use in welcoming the New Year.
Instead, the DOH said the public should opt for alternative noisemakers, such as the use of drums, horns, pots and pans, coin banks, tambourines, and loud music. – With Jocelyn Montemayor and Gerard Naval