Returning workers not required to take COVID-19 test-DOLE

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Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Monday employees in areas under eased quarantine are not mandated to undergo the COVID-19 test before they could return to work. 

Bello said in an interview with Unang Hirit that only those who are showing COVID-10 symptoms should be required to be tested. 

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“Hindi mandatory ang COVID-19 testing. Kung symptomatic, i-test dapat. Pero kung hindi po, hindi mandatory ‘yan,” he said.

(COVID-19 testing is not mandatory. Those symptomatic should be tested. But if not, it is not compulsory.)

The government allowed selected industries to resume operations under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) and general community quarantine with 50 of its workforce. 

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Companies should also follow the minimum health standards and workplace guidelines set by the IATF for all workplaces, employers, and workers in the private sector.

Also read: Workplace guidelines for ECQ, GCQ areas

“We have drafted guidelines with the Department of Trade and Industry. Dapat compliant ang lahat sa [all must be compliant with the] minimum health standards to prevent contamination and COVID-19 transmission,” he said.

The Department of Health also shared the same call,

“Our protocol is to guide employers. We have emphasized that symptomatic screening is ideal, and test only when symptomatic,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in a statement.

“[Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases] Resolution stated that in no case should testing be a condition for return to work, so we expect that specific agencies will implement IATF Resolutions.”

Workers struggle as public transportation are still banned in MECQ

Bello also reminded the employers to provide shuttle services for their workers as mass transport is still prohibited in MECQ areas.

The mass transport in GCQ areas meanwhile operates in reduced capacities to ensure physical distancing.

“Hindi natin mao-obliga na magbigay sila ng shuttle service para sa kanilang mga employees, pero kung nire-require nila na pumasok ang kanilang mga workers, dapat i-provide nila ang shuttle service. Kasi kung hindi, hindi rin sila makakapasok kasi walang sasakyan eh,” Bello said.

(We cannot oblige them to provide shuttle service for their employees. But if they require them to report, they should provide the shuttle service. If not, they can’t still go to work because there is no transportation.)

Based on Resolution No. 37 of the IATF, the following areas are under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) effective Saturday, May 16, to last until Sunday, May 31:

  • highly urbanized cities of the National Capital Region and municipality of Pateros
  • Bataan
  • Bulacan
  • Nueva Ecija
  • Pampanga including Angeles City
  • Zambales
  • Laguna
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