Pacquiao's ‘New Normal Law' bill to enforce strict hygiene, social distancing measures after COVID-19 pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 23) – Senator Manny Pacquiao will file a bill that will require people to adopt a "standard hygiene and social distancing protocol" which must be strictly enforced in light of the continuing threat of COVID-19.

The boxing champ turned senator said the protocols are addressed in his “New Normal Law" bill that seeks to change the practices in social places to save lives.

"Nakakalungkot man isipin ngunit kailangan talaga nating magkaroon ng panibagong patakaran para sa ating mga pakikisalamuha sa ating mga kapwa," Pacquiao said in an interview with CNN Philippines on Thursday.

[Translation: It's sad but we really must adopt new rules in the way we communicate face to face.]

Apart from practicing social distancing at all times, Pacquiao also stressed the need to require public places like restaurants and restrooms to have hand sanitizers and soaps to curb the spread the deadly virus.

The senator stressed the importance of having these guidelines at this time until medical experts come out with a vaccine for the disease that has infected 6,981 Filipinos and claimed 462 lives, based on the Department of Health’s latest count Thursday.

He said his proposed law is open to amendment once the COVID-19 threat has diminished.

Kung madiskubre 'yung gamot ng COVID-19, pwedeng amyendahan ang batas at hindi rin totally i-abolish dahil maganda ang ilang mga panukala dito kagaya ng pagkakaroon ng hand sanitizer,” said Pacquiao.

[Translation: If the cure for COVID-19 will be discovered, the law can be amended and not totally abolished as there are some good proposals here like the provision on hand sanitizers (required in all restaurants and public restrooms).]

Among the salient features of Pacquiao’s bill are the enforcement of social distancing in supermarkets, restaurants, and churches; installation of dividers in restaurants, and wearing of mouth cover for kitchen staff.

Also addressed in the bill are the limited buying hours inside groceries, consumers presenting a shopping list, and holding of concerts, sports events, and other large entertainment gatherings without an audience.

Pacquiao also endorsed telemedicine as an alternative way for sick patients to consult physicians.

Telemedicine upgrades face-to-face medical consultations through technological means, where patients will call a hotline or access a website to seek medical assistance.

Pacquiao said telemedicine will mostly benefit poor patients who cannot afford consultation fees at private clinics or hospitals.

“Less burden ito para sa mga tao especially yung mga mahihirap na walang kakayanan,” he said.

[Translation: It will be less burden especially for the poor who don’t have money.]

Telemedicine website is latest trend amid pandemic

In a related development, Dr. Vic Chua of the Beta Sigma Fraternity Medical Group announced that their organization opened a telemedicine website for those needing medical assistance.

Chua said telemedicine is needed now since most of the hospitals are focused on COVID-19 related cases.

Ang hospitals natin ay overloaded na," said Chua. "Ang clinics, nagsasara. Maraming nagiging limitasyon ang pagkonsulta ng mga pasyente sa mga doktor."

[Translation: Our hospitals are overloaded. Our clinics are closing. There are many limitations in the consultation of patients to doctors.]

Chua added patients with or without COVID-19 can seek medical consultations through their website.

He also assured that patients consulting through their website can present an image of the doctor’s prescriptions in drug stores when buying medicines, as the DOH issued a directive allowing such practice.