NOTE: This story was first published in The Bohol Chronicle’s Sunday print edition.
Not taking chances, Bohol continues to guard its coastlines from violators of the no-sail policy.
Gov. Art Yap issued Executive Order 28 on April 29, extending the suspension of domestic air and sea travel of passengers bound for Bohol until 11:59 p.m. of May 31.
EO 28 also declares province-wide state of general community quarantine to remain in place from May 1 until 11:59 p.m. on May 31.
In EO 28, the general quarantine measures shall continue to be observed such as the following: general curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.; travel ban of incoming passengers; suspension of classes; liquor ban; social distancing; prohibition against mass gatherings; mandatory use of facemasks; regulated operation of business establishments; and the one-household, one-pass policy.
“Last week, the national government classified Bohol, among the ‘low-risk’ areas and recommended that we be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ). What does this mean for Bohol in the weeks to come? It is true that Bohol is Covid-free to date (April 29). But that does not mean that we have reasons to relax and lower our guard. We must remember two things: 1) we have a limited number of ventilators, doctors, nurses, isolation and quarantine beds. If we cannot manage the rate of local infections, we will drown our healthcare providers and collapse Bohol into chaos; 2) we have just started to accept returning OFWs. Pretty soon, we will have to accept other returning Bol-anons coming from Manila, Cebu and all over the world. These two realities are enough reasons why we have to continue our strategy of aggressive prevention,” Yap explained.
With regard to the senior citizens aged over 65, the exemption to their 24-hour curfew under EO 16-A in the hours they are actually farming or fishing will stay.
For the month of May- -starting May 4, seniors will be allowed to break their 24-hour curfew from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. but only every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
As to minors below the age of 18, the exemption for those aged 15-17 years old under EO 16-A in the hours they are actually farming or fishing will also stay.
For the month of May starting May 4, minors aged below 18 will be allowed to break their 24-hour curfew from the hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. but only in the company of at least one parent or one guardian who is not a senior citizen and only on Mondays and Fridays. Other than Monday or Friday, their curfew at home will stay effective.
EO 28 also amended EO 18 to include the following in the list of industries allowed to operate on a regulated operating hours basis: certain manufacturing industries; malls and commercial centers and establishments (including clothing, accessories, and non-leisure stores); barbershops, salon, spas, and other personal care industries; and other services.
The manufacturing industries allowed to operate are those for beverages (non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks); machinery and equipment (electrical and otherwise); wood products and furniture; non-metallic products (mineral and otherwise); tobacco products; paper and paper products; rubber and plastic products; refined petroleum products; computer, electronic and optical products; pharmaceutical, health, and other emergency and disaster risk reduction products and equipment.
Other services allowed are real estate activities; office administrative, office support and other business activities; legal and accounting; insurance, reinsurance, and pension funding, except compulsory social security; architecture and engineering activities; technical testing and analysis; scientific and research development; other professional, scientific, and technical activities; social work activities without accommodation; and government office- -frontline offices.
These industries, establishments or offices- -when already allowed to open starting May 4- -shall comply with the following protocol: observance of the DOH guidelines for area sanitation; temperature scanning in all entrances; all patrons and employees or workers exhibiting any Covid-19 related symptoms shall not be allowed entry into the premises; provision of alcohol or hand sanitizers in all entrances; footbaths at the entrances if directly open to the sidewalk or street; daily sanitation and disinfection at pre-determined areas within the premises at least three times during operating hours; provide a help desk in strategic entrances for senior citizens, pregnant women and PWDs who may need assistance from front liners in transacting business; limit the number of people who enter any establishment to ensure strict observance of physical distancing of two meters from another; employees should be provided an ample eating area where they can be seated at least one meter apart and not directly across each other and all eating utensils and dishes should be washed by the user or stowed away by the user; any activity promoting the congregation of a crowd is strictly prohibited.
In the case of barbershops, salon, spas and other personal care industries must also implement additional measures in addition to the previously mentioned protocol.
These additional measures are the following: customers must make an appointment to avoid long waiting queues and all high touch surfaces must be subjected to disinfection after each customer; The establishment must provide a handwashing area or 70% alcohol hand disinfectant for all customers and staff; provide at least two meters of space between chairs or treatment tables; surfaces (floors, tables, chairs, doorknobs and toilets) must be cleaned and disinfected after every customer leaves the premises using prescribed disinfectants; and all tools shall be sterilized and disinfected after every use.
For malls, dry goods and department stores the additional measures required are the following: online ordering is strongly encouraged to avoid queues and crowding in stores; personnel should be minimized to decrease the density of persons in the store; demarcation lines or cordons should be applied to manage distancing and avoid crowding; regular disinfection of all high touch surfaces should be done every two hours; there shall be a roving safety officer who shall see to it that all these guidelines and policies are followed by the various establishments inside the mall.
However, sports related mass gatherings, including training, games, tournaments, championships, fitness gyms, gambling and betting activities, cockpits and internet shops shall remain closed in the whole province.
“I remind everyone that there are no perfect policies or solutions since this is the first time Bohol and the world is meeting this problem. Many of our policies will have to be tested along the way. We will be open to amending them, depending on what is practical and realistic as we balance the economic needs of Bohol with the need to keep our people safe from Covid-19,” Yap said.