House special panel okays bill on 'new normal'

May 28, 2020

A MEASURE defining the “new normal” scenario amid coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic was approved by a special panel in the House of Representatives and is ready to be endorsed in the plenary for further debates and approval.

House Bill 6623 or the Better Normal for the Workplace, Communities and Public Spaces Act of 2020 passed the scrutiny of House Defeat COVID-19 Committee (DCC).

Among the authors are Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Majority Leader Martin  Romualdez, Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor; Deputy Speakers Poalo Duterte and Loren Legarda, ACTS-CIS Rep. Eric Go Yap and Bulacan Rep. Jonathan Sy-Alvarado.

The bill's primary purpose is to lay the groundwork that will expedite the people’s adaptation to the demands of new normal policies to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

The bill likewise aims to prepare and educate Filipinos for life after the lifting of the restrictions imposed by the national government and local government units (LGUs) to contain the spread of COVID-19 through new norms of social or physical distancing and safety measures in government and private offices, schools, commercial establishments and other public spaces.

“As soon as we adapt to the new normal, businesses can resume operations and workers can go back to their jobs without fear of contracting the dreaded coronavirus. Through physical distancing and other stringent safety and health protocols, we can also keep our families safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. We have no choice but to adapt to the new normal. The soonest time possible, the better,” Romualdez said.

“The World Health Organization has declared that the new coronavirus will be with us for a long time and that an effective vaccine against it won’t be available in at least a year. Given this scenario, we have to act decisively. Not tomorrow, but today. We cannot be kept hostage in our homes forever in this age of pandemic,” he added.

Under the bill, several government agencies will implement measures to be extended for three years or sooner upon official declaration of the President.

The measure institutes protocols such as wearing of face masks in public areas, availability of handwashing and sanitizing stations in public areas, temperature checks and observing social or physical distancing.

It also states that public gatherings are prohibited although subject to exceptions to be provided by the Local Government Units guidelines.

In terms of transportation, passengers should be seated one seat apart and the use of contactless payment mechanisms should be applied.