Are returning workers required to take a COVID-19 test?

Last May 12, Malacañang announced a transition from the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to either a modified ECQ or to a general community quarantine across the country. For many sectors, that means a return back to work. However, many are still confused about what policies will be in place to protect returning workers.

One of the main questions people have is if testing for COVID-19 will be required for those returning to their jobs. The Department of Health clarified that employees are not required to undergo testing prior to returning to work.

(Here are the new mall and workspace guidelines for areas under GCQ)

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that the DOH does not recommend testing for individuals who have not had any exposure to a suspected or confirmed new COVID-19 patient.

“Our protocol is to guide employers. We have emphasized that symptomatic screening is ideal, and test only when symptomatic,” Vergeire said in a Viber message to reporters. “[The] IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) resolution stated that in no case shall testing be a condition for [the] return to work, so we expect that specific agencies shall implement and enforce the IATF resolutions.”

Under the guidelines, the following infection control procedures apply:

  • Returning workers will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
    • Those who are symptomatic with relevant history of travel or exposure will not be allowed to return to work.
    • Those who are symptomatic with relevant history of travel or exposure within the last 14 days prior to the date of work resumption will present a certificate of quarantine completion duly issued by the step-down care facility or local health office.
    • If asymptomatic within the last 14 days prior to the date of work resumption, workers will be cleared to return.
  • Daily temperature checks and symptom monitoring will be conducted for returning staff.
  • Employers must enforce infection control procedures such as physical distancing, wearing masks, meticulous hand hygiene, and cough etiquette.
  • Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) should be worn, based on the work setting.

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