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National task force allows conferences, seminars in GCQ areas

The national government has allowed conferences, seminars, and similar events to be held in general community quarantine (GCQ) areas as long as a 30% venue capacity limit is observed.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque announced this on Friday, December 4, following an Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases meeting on Thursday.

He listed the following types of events as allowed:

  • Workshops
  • Training
  • Seminars
  • Congresses
  • Conferences
  • Board meetings
  • Colloquia
  • Conclaves
  • Symposia
  • Consumer trade shows

"The abovementioned events must be held in venues in areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and will be permitted up to 30% venue capacity," said Roque, who is also task force spokesperson.

These activities can be held in restaurants, restaurants of hotels, ballrooms and function venues in hotels, and mall atria.

The new policy echoes the task force's rule allowing religious gatherings like Masses in GCQ areas, up to 30% of venue capacity.

This latest easing of rules on mass gatherings comes after the task force floated a controversial plan to allow minors inside shopping malls. The proposal was rejected by Metro Manila mayors upon the recommendation of pediatric groups.

Piecemeal modifications in the guidelines governing the GCQ classification, such that it is slowly becoming similar to MGCQ, is one way the national government is reopening the economy without changing the quarantine mode of a city or province where coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Mandatory adoption of 'Safety Seal'

In the same meeting, the task force decided to require government offices, private companies, hotels, business establishments, and public transportation to adopt the "Safety Seal."

A Safety Seal is supposed to certify that the establishment, office, or transportation unit follows health protocols to combat COVID-19.

The departments of trade, tourism, health, interior and local government, and transportation are to issue a joint memorandum circular detailing how establishments can get a Safety Seal.

Roque provided little detail about the Safety Seal, except to say that it will require the establishment to adopt the StaySafe application. It would also need to use the unique QR code to be generated by StaySafe.

StaySafe is a contact-tracing app developed by private firm Multisys which has been named the government's official contact-tracing app. Recently, the government required that people entering government offices use StaySafe before entry.

Data privacy issues hounding StaySafe prompted the task force to order in its 45th resolution that Multisys to sign a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Health for the transfer of all its user data, source, and intellectual property.

However, it is not clear if this MOA was ever signed. Multisys CEO David Almirol Jr has not answered Rappler's queries about the transfer of the data. Roque said last September 3 that the StaySafe source code, data, data ownership, and intellectual property was "assigned" to the DOH. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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