Trade department issues rules on reopening of business sectors

posted March 02, 2021 at 01:40 am
by  Othel V. Campos
The Department of Trade and Industry has prescribed the recategorization of certain business activities from Category IV to Category III, which gradually reopens the operations of driving schools, traditional cinemas, museums, and tourist attractions under the General Community Quarantine.

In a statement, officials said this was pursuant to the earlier approval granted by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

“Following the earlier agreement at the IATF, DTI issued the circular that will guide the implementation of a safe and gradual reopening of more businesses and economic activities. This is part of our mandate to ensure that as more businesses reopen to provide more jobs and sources of income for our countrymen, the strict health protocols are enforced," said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

With the reopening and the recategorization of businesses, the Memorandum Circular stipulated the maximum operational capacity and recognized the oversight function of the appropriate regulatory agency and the local government units (LGUs) where they might be.

The Circular will take effect on 05 March 2021, upon its publication and filing with the University of the Philippines Law Center.

Thus, it allows the appropriate agency, the LGUs, and the Department of Health to develop additional guidelines that will ensure an effective health protocol system as these sectors are gradually reopened.

"There is shared objective in restoring economic activities while keeping the health protocol fully enforced, to prevent unnecessary surge of COVID-19 cases. This has been the working formula in previous reopening of economic sectors to bring back jobs,” the trade chief said.

Lopez said the recovery to pre-pandemic levels could be possibly accelerated even before the-year timeline announced by the President if the rest of the restricted industries and sectors were opened fully within the same framework of stricter health protocols.

“We respect the decision of the President to wait for the vaccines before we totally open the economy. The initial roll-out is happening now and this can only bring heightened optimism to all,” he said Monday.

He stressed that the government’s decision to unlock the remaining closed sectors once the vaccine had arrived was never a reckless decision which contrary to mass perception.

The enforcement of a unified transportation system is also seen to help reopen the Department economy without optimizing the quarantine level to modified general community quarantine.

The DTI's memorandum said: “Following the earlier agreement at the IATF, DTI issued the circular that will guide the implementation of a safe and gradual reopening of more businesses and economic activities.

This is part of our mandate to ensure that as more businesses reopen to provide more jobs and sources of income for our countrymen, the strict health protocols are enforced."

"There is shared objective in restoring economic activities while keeping the health protocol fully enforced, to prevent unnecessary surge of COVID-19 cases. This has been the working formula in previous reopening of economic sectors to bring back jobs,” Lopez said.

Under the memorandum circular, libraries, museums, cultural centers, meetings and conventions, and limited tourist attractions and video games arcades are allowed to operate at a maximum of 50 percent under GCQ and 75 percent under Modified GCQ (MGCQ).

Meanwhile, traditional cinemas are allowed to operate only at a maximum of 25 percent in GCQ and 50 percent in MGCQ areas, subject to additional implementing guidelines from DOH and the LGUs. Limited Social Events will be restricted to 30 percent in GCQ and 50 percent in MGCQ areas. Both categories must be held at accredited establishments of the Department of Tourism.

The circular also stated that the expansion of the aforementioned business establishments or activities under Category IV in GCQ and MGCQ areas are subject to compliance with the minimum public health and safety standards and protocols and relevant issuances released by the DTI, DOH, DOT, and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

To ensure the compliance of business establishments, the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) and Regional or Provincial Offices, will continue its strict compliance monitoring through its post-audit mechanism.

Limited Social Events will be restricted to 30 percent in GCQ and 50 percent in MGCQ areas.

Both categories must be held at accredited establishments of the Department of Tourism and are subject to DTI-DOT Joint MC 2021-001 or the Amended Guidelines Governing the Conduct of Essential Meetings and Social Events in Areas Under GCQ.

The full list of establishments can be viewed through this link: https://bit.ly/DTI_MC21-08

The MC also states that the expansion of the aforementioned business establishments or activities under Category IV in GCQ and MGCQ areas are subject to compliance with the minimum public health and safety standards and protocols and relevant issuances released by the DTI, DOH, DOT, and Department of Labor and Employment.

To ensure the compliance of business establishments, the DTI, through the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) and Regional or Provincial Offices, will continue its strict compliance monitoring through its post-audit mechanism. Inspection by DOLE, DOH, and the LGU’s Health Office may also be conducted at any time. In addition, the general public may also course their feedback and complaints through the DTI Consumer Care Hotline 1-384 or 1-DTI.

“The past year proved to be very challenging as we were faced with unprecedented situations that demanded extraordinary responses, but it was also a time for growth and collaboration. Through the continued partnership of government agencies and with the strict adherence of our countrymen to health and safety protocols, we will continue to see signs of recovery," Sec. Lopez said.

"As we move forward this year, we will continue this momentum and adopt a whole-of-nation and whole-of-society approach towards safely and gradually reopening our economy."

Topics: Department of Trade and Industry , reopen , business , GCQ , Ramon Lopez
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