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Is social distancing really possible in a country where most employees have to strive daily to put food on the table?

SOCIAL DISTANCING – This move to curb the spread of the 2019 coronavirus in the Philippines is not achievable if most employees still have to work to earn and provide for their families.

The Philippines is currently facing a huge challenge – to stop the spread of COVID-19 or the 2019 coronavirus in the country. Currently, there is a total of 142 confirmed cases of the disease in the country.

The Department of Health (DOH) recorded twelve (12) deaths in PH due to coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is a possibility that the coronavirus infection would jump to 70,000 if the epidemic is not curbed. Coronavirus deaths may also reach 2,400.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

In the pursuit to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country, the national government initially put the whole Metro Manila under a “community quarantine”. Several provincial and city governments outside the Metro also placed their areas under a quarantine.

The authorities also continuously reminds the public to implement “social distancing” – avoid the crowd and limit physical contact. However, is it achievable even if businesses will not cooperate by suspending work or providing a home-based work scheme to their employees?

Photo Credit: ABS-CBN News/Zhander Cayabyab

Truths be told that most Filipino employees have to go to work daily to put food on the table. These people have to face the risk of being on the streets amid the threat of coronavirus so they can have their salaries at the end of the month. That is what happened amid the implementation of quarantines – people gathered at the check points. There was no social distancing.

Bacolod City
Photo Credit: Kurtlen Cortones Majarucon

Yesterday, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte put the whole of Luzon under an “enhanced community quarantine”. Under its implementation, Filipinos must stay at home. Social distancing is one of those highly-highlighted – for the nth time.

However, like what the President stressed, businesses must cooperate. Employees must cooperate as well and the local government units down to the barangay level must do its part to make all the measures possible.

It is the stand of that “social distancing” is not achievable if most employees still have to go to work amid the COVID-19 threats. Aside from the fact that these people have to work to put food on the table, it is the mandate of the companies or their employers that they will report to work. If not, they may lose their jobs. Don’t blame these innocent employees.

But to clarify, we believe that not only businesses must do their share but as well as the employees and the government – we must all sacrifice to win this battle.

Businesses must suspend work if they cannot provide a home-based scheme for their workers. Losses in the income is thousand folds bearable than sacrificing your employees’ health. Only the “essential” operations must continue.

On the part of the employees, each must also do his or her share by staying at home. You may have to cut down certain little luxuries for a while but take it as a sacrifice to help in curbing the spread of the disease.

While businesses suspend work so employees will stay at home, the government must be ready to provide for the needs of the people. This is the time that the people, most especially those who only depend on their daily income for food, need them the most.

It is’s humble hope that cooperation will win this battle against COVID-19. May we do our part and continue to pray to the Almighty that this won’t get any worst. Let us work together to see the Philippines rise again.

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