Baguio OKs ordinance making physical distancing new normal

BAGUIO CITY – Social distancing is now a new normal here until the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has been addressed.

An ordinance was approved by the city council that imposes physical distancing for all people in workplaces, business establishments, crowd-drawing events; in business operations or in any activity that entails queuing or formation of a line; and in public utility vehicles such as but not limited to public utility jeepneys, taxis, company shuttles, and transport network vehicles.

Passenger motorcycles or “angkas" are now prohibited under the ordinance, in compliance with the physical distancing policy.

The World Health Organization (WHO), in a press conference on March 20, said "physical distancing” is a more appropriate term than “social distancing” as the former implies that people should remain “physically separated but socially connected.”

The WHO recommends staying more than one meter away from the nearest person.

Under the ordinance, violators will be fined PHP500 for the first offense; PHP1,000 for the second offense; and PHP3,000 for the third offense.

The ordinance stipulates that it is the duty of public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers/operators and persons in charge of the government and private offices, workplaces, business operations, events, and activities, to ensure that physical distancing is applied under their supervision.

They are tasked to post signage in their establishments, offices, and vehicles notifying the public of the physical distancing policy and the penalties for violations specified in the ordinance.

It also said non-compliant persons in charge shall be fined PHP3,000 for the first offense; PHP4,000 for the second offense; and PHP5,000 and cancelation of the business permit if applicable, on the third offense.

Any government official or employee who violates any provision of the ordinance shall be meted administrative disciplinary action, without prejudice to the filing of the appropriate criminal or civil action under the Local Government Code of the Philippines.

The offices tasked to ensure successful enforcement of the ordinance are the City Health Services Office (CHSO), the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO), the Public Order and Safety Division (POSD), and the Permits and Licensing Division.

The public information officers of the local government shall disseminate information regarding this legislative measure to the widest extent possible.

On April 30, the inter-agency task force (IATF) released Resolution No. 30 which contains the Omnibus Guidelines for the Implementation of the General or Enhanced Community Quarantine for the period covering May 1 to May 15.

Under the said guidelines, Benguet, which geographically includes Baguio, is among the nine areas placed under ECQ while several other areas in the country were placed under GCQ within the said period.

IATF Resolution No. 30 specifies that the IATF shall decide whether to impose, lift, or extend a community quarantine in provinces, highly urbanized cities, and independent component cities beginning May 16. (PNA)


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