The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and all local government units (LGUs) are slated to inspect all public buildings, markets, and commercial establishments to check their compliance to Minimum Public Health Standards (MPHS) and use of StaySafe.ph application under the new program called Safety Seal certification.
The Safety Seal program is an inter-agency effort among the DILG, Department of Health (DOH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Tourism (DOT), and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) which grants establishments a Safety Seal to be conspicuously displayed indicating that the building or establishment they are entering are compliant to health protocols against Covid-19.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that as part of the Safety Seal program, the DILG and LGUs will inspect buildings to grant the said seal and ensure that all establishments, private and public, are adhering to MPHS and are using the StaySafe.ph as their contribution in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. He said that the initiative is part of the government’s efforts to stop the surge of COVID-19 and assure the people that the said establishment is safe.
“With the Safety Seal being awarded by the DILG and LGUs as Issuing Authorities, we are keeping the public away from the coronavirus. Sa pagtugon at pagsunod ng mga may-ari ng mga gusaling ito sa MPHS ay magkakaroon ng confidence ang mga tao na safe ang papasukin nilang building,” Año said.
Año said that the DILG as the Issuing Authority will be awarding the Safety Seal to compliant government establishments such as city and municipal halls; provincial capitols; and all other LGU facilities and buildings. It will also inspect police camps and stations; Bureau of Fire Protection offices and Fire Stations; Provincial, District, and City Jails; barangay halls and other barangay facilities; and, all other public establishments not covered by the other Issuing Agencies.
LGUs, on the other hand, shall inspect and grant the Safety Seal to malls; wet markets; other retail stores; restaurants outside hotels and resorts; fast food stores; eateries; coffee shops; banks; money changers; pawnshops; remittance centers; car wash; laundry service centers; art galleries; libraries; museums; zoo; sports centers; tutorial, testing, and review centers; gyms; spas; cinemas; arcades; and, all other private establishments.
The Safety Seal bears a green check with the sentence “We follow safety & health protocols against COVID-19” printed on it. It also indicates the Issuing Authority, Date of Issuance, Safety Seal Number, and a QR code placed on the seal as a safeguard against counterfeits. It must also be verifiable with the Issuing Authority or the government agency or instrumentality with the authority to issue the certification and award the Safety Seal.
In the ceremonial signing of Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 21 s. of 2021 containing the implementing guidelines of the Safety Seal program, implementing government agencies were one in saying that the said program will help arrest the surge of COVID that we are currently experiencing.
Signatories of the JMC were DILG Secretary Año, DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, DOLE Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, and DOH Undersecretary Abdullah B. Dumama, Jr.
DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan E. Malaya said that the Safety Seal given to compliant establishments is an assurance to the public that they are entering a COVID-19-safe structure. Placed on the door of an establishment, “the Safety Seal will be a warm welcome for the people as they enter to dine, purchase, or visit a certain structure or building.”
As more businesses are now slated to open to boost the economy, especially in the event that quarantine classifications are downgraded anew, Malaya said that these Safety Seals coupled with the StaySafe.ph app can be a tool in halting the transmission of the coronavirus. “The reality is we cannot keep people from entering various establishments dahil kailangan nilang maghanap-buhay. Aming hangarin na itong Safety Seal ay magsilbing palatandaan na kapag nakita nila ay maging panatag silang may mga pamantayang sinusunod ang establisimyentong iyon para maging ligtas sila doon,” he said.
He also urged the public to always look for the Safety Seal as their requisite prior to entering an establishment. “Ugaliin sana ng ating mga kababayan na laging hanapin ang mga Safety Seal na ito bago pumasok sa isang gusali sapagkat ito ay isang magandang panlaban at pananggalang sa COVID-19,” he said.
How to get the Safety Seal
To receive the Safety Seal, Año said private and public establishments must pass eligibility requirements patterned on the MPHS currently being implemented by the IATF and the national government.
According to the JMC No. 21 which is the implementing guidelines of the Safety Seal program, establishments shall require health declaration and/or symptoms assessment; non-contact temperature check is performed to all employees, customers, and any individual who enters the premises; customers and other individuals who enter the premises are asked to register with StaySafe.ph; and, as applicable, an isolation area for symptomatic employees shall be installed.
Among other requirements are the availability of handwashing stations, soap and sanitizers, and hand drying equipment or supplies (e.g., single use paper towel) to employees and clients/visitors which are placed in strategic locations in the establishment; observance of physical distancing or spacing through installation of physical barriers in enclosed areas where physical distancing may be compromised, i.e., blocking off of chairs, use of markers or stickers on the floor for spacing; and, ensure adequate air exchange in enclosed (indoor) areas as cited in DOLE Department Order No. 224-21 or the Guidelines on Ventilation for Workplaces and Public Transport to Prevent and Control the Spread of COVID-19.
If all requisites are fulfilled, Año said that the owner or authorized representative of the business establishment can download the form from the website or secure from the office of Issuing Authority the appropriate checklist and perform self-assessment. “The process starts from downloading the form then validations, and inspection with the help of the PNP shall follow bago po maibigay ang Safety Seal.”
Meanwhile, Año said that the Safety Seal may be obtained at no cost to the establishment and shall be valid for six months from the date of issuance, except for those issued to tourism enterprises which shall be valid for one year. The Safety Seal shall also be renewable subject to continued compliance with the eligibility requirements set by the JMC.