Wearing of face masks in public places may become part of the “new normal” (Photo from the Quezon City Government Facebook page)


With no vaccine yet for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a House Bill attempts to define the “new normal” in the country.

House Bill 6623 or the “New Normal for the Workplace and Public Spaces Act” authored by House Speak Alan Peter Cayetano, seeks to institutionalize throughout the country protocols currently implemented during the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine such as the mandatory wearing of face masks and observing physical distancing in public places.

Under the bill, mandatory temperature checks on people in enclosed and semi-closed areas will be undertaken also, including open properties where more than two people converge.

Operation of motorcycle taxis will be suspended until further notice as physical distancing will be the new norm.
For other modes of public transportation, passengers are to be seated one seat apart and the fare should be paid using “contactless” methods.

Malls and other similar establishments have to limit the number of customers inside their business areas.
Food services could start with take-out/delivery service and “gradually re-introduce dine-ins” but only through contactless service.

Restaurants who offer buffets or salad bars can no longer do so and that menu booklets should be disposable.
In salons, parlors or spas, where physical distancing is a challenge, it will be mandatory to face masks and gloves.

Classes and other school activities remain suspended but online platforms should be implemented to allow students to continue learning online.

The bill also calls for private companies and businesses to come up with protocols that should include, among others, limiting the number of employees expected to work inside the office and how employees should report for work.

The bill also directed the Philippine Statistics Authority to facilitate the implementation of the national ID system and for the Department of Information and Communications Technology to speed up the adoption of the national broadband program.

The house bill, if enacted into law, will have a maximum life term of three years until such time that the threat of the pandemic has been completely addressed. (Jojo Mangahis)