Hotels, restaurants and other business establishments that comply fully with COVID protocols will soon bear the government's Safety Seal to reassure consumers under one year of quarantine and counting that it's okay to enter, officials said Friday.
The seal is the initiative of the Departments of Trade and Industry, Interior and Local Government, Tourism, Labor and Employment and Health. The agencies respective heads signed a joint memorandum circular that will implement it.
"More than just a signage, the presence of the safety seal means they are committing to the implementation of the health protocol. Otherwise, they could face penalties during an audit by the monitoring team... or if customers file a complaint against them with regard to compliance," Trade Sec. Ramon Lopez said in a Zoom call with reporters.
The memo will be released by Monday, told reportr separately. Some 24 million people in Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan are under the second highest quarantine, MECQ, until April 30. Should it be donwgraded, more stores will be allowed to operate and at higher capacities.
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Under the program, business establishments must use the contact tracing app StaySafe and to enforce strict health protocols. While these have long been standard, the Stay Safe seal was being introduced as part of a confidence building campaign, officials said.
"Since this safety seal certification is voluntary, it is up for the establishments to self-certify themselves as being compliant with health protocols. This will remove any fear by establishments that this is just another level of bureaucracy that they have to adjust to" Lopez told reporters in a Zoom call.
If not required, why should establishments get it?
The safety seal certificate would add a "seal of good housekeeping," said Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
Those without a safety seal could still operate, given they comply with the minumum health standards and use of the government-mandated contact tracing app.
Consumers may lodge complaints to Hotline 1384. Establishments would be given 48 hours to address the complaint before audit teams remove their safety seal.
The safety seals are valid for six months, but may be forfeited due to violations.
How to apply for the safety seal
Establishments must require the use of StaySafe app before customers enter their premises. Labor Assistant Sec. Tess Cucueco urges establishments to share Wi-Fi connection to their customers who don't have data to access the app.
Although the government moves for digital contact tracing, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said pen and paper could still be enforced.
"We'll find out how we can make sure they are able to find a good contact tracing system for their customers (without access to internet)."
The government is also moving to integrate other contact tracing apps to the StaySafe app.
Certification of business permits are also required for business owners, who can apply and submit requirements online. A team will then inspect the establishment and could give the safety seal right away.