Enterprises such as supermarkets and pharmacies are mandated to remain open during the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine which puts their workers at risk of exposure to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The management of these establishments must immediately develop and implement protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their respective workplaces taking into account the risk levels associated with the tasks performed by different workers. These protocols should include educating employees, and implementing social distancing, and infection control measures based on the guidelines issued by the DOLE, Department of Health, and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Social distancing which aims to limit the number of people inside an establishment is implemented by ensuring that everybody is at least one meter apart from each other. As per DTI guidelines, the number of people at any given time inside the selling area shall have a density of 1 person per square meter of unimpeded space.

This should be coupled with strict screening of people entering the premises. As advised by the World Health Organization Philippines, sick employees and customers, especially those with cough, colds, and fever (temperature of 37.3° or higher), must be instructed to stay home.

Regular disinfection of all surfaces must also be conducted. These include high touch high traffic areas such as elevators, ATM machines, baskets, shopping carts, crates, door knobs, refrigerator and freezer handles, shelves, seats, tables, and counters. Shortened operating hours will allow for effective disinfection of premises

Supermarkets and pharmacies are encouraged to provide closed trash bins and alcohol-based sanitizers, as well as in prominent areas of the establishment.

Workers should also be given appropriate and sufficient personal protective equipment like masks and gloves to further safeguard them. As part of the measures to limit employee exposure, providing temporary housing and shuttle service especially to workers living outside the city is also recommended.

In the event that the establishment is exposed to COVID-19, the management must conduct contact tracing in coordination with the Department of Health and the concerned Local Government Unit.

END/ DJ Romero