House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said Tuesday the New Normal Act is designed to help the government deal with the COVID-19 pandemic by establishing regulations for the new normal way of life in work places and public areas, such as the mandatory wearing of face masks and the observance of physical and social distancing.
Romualdez, the chairman of the House committee on rules, made the statement following the chamber's approval of House Bill 6864, An Act Establishing Public Health and Environmental Standards and Safeguards for the Better Normal in the Workplace, Public Spaces and Communities Toward a Sustainable Recovery from the Coronavirus Disease-19 Pandemic.”
“We seek to lay the groundwork that will expedite our people's adaptation to the demands of the new normal life,” Romualdez said.
The House passed the bill on the motion of House Deputy Majority Leader and Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Wilter Wee Palma ll, Romualdez’s main Deputy Floor Leader and acknowledged by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano as the workhorse of the House Plenary.
The measure promotes “contact-less” payment mechanisms and mandates the wearing of face masks, earloop masks, indigenous, reusable or do-it-yourself masks, face shields, handkerchiefs or such other protective material when in the workplace, public places and communities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
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The bill provides that the owners, managers or administrators of public spaces and workplaces will likewise establish handwashing facilities or sanitizing stations and monitor the temperature of those visiting their areas.
HB 6864 also mandates physical distancing of at least one meter between individuals whenever in public spaces and in the workplace.
Romualdez, president of the Lakas Christian Muslim Democrats, says the bill aims to prepare and educate Filipinos for life after the lifting of the restrictions imposed by the national government and local government units to contain the spread of COVID-19 through the 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,” Romualdez said.
“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 added: “We have to act decisively. Not tomorrow but today. We cannot be kept hostage in our homes forever in this age of the pandemic.”
Aside from Romualdez, the other principal authors of HB 6864 were Cayetano, Deputy Speakers Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur, Paolo Duterte of Davao City and Loren Legarda of Antique and Reps. Mike Defensor of Anakalusugan, Eric Yap of ACT-CIS party-list group and Jonathan Sy-Alvarado of Bulacan.
Villafuerte says the new legislation is designed to prepare Filipinos for the “new normal” way of life with the continuing threat of COVID-19.
“Helping attune the nation to the new norms of life amid the continuing health risk posed by COVID-19 in the months or years ahead should top the concerns of legislators,” Villafuerte said.
“We want COVID-19 to go away sooner than later, of course.”
Villafuerte said more than 190 other lawmakers had sponsored House Bill 6864, providing for a “whole-of-society” approach to the “new normal” way of life— anchored on strict mandatory safety and social or
physical distancing protocols—once containment measures are lifted and economic and social activities are somewhat back in Metro Manila and the rest of the country.
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