Labor chief: COVID-19 vaccination only required among staff of restaurants with dine-in services

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 21) — The Department of Labor and Employment has set the record straight on the issue of requiring COVID-19 vaccination among workers.

Speaking to CNN Philippines’ The Final Word on Thursday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said there is “no such thing as mandatory vaccination” and there is no law requiring employees to have COVID-19 shots. But he said there is an exception when it comes to workers in the restaurant industry, which is indicated in a resolution from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

"There is no law which requires everybody, including workers, to get vaccinated. It is only a resolution of the IATF which requires that in operating a restaurant, you have to have your workers vaccinated. That is the only instance where vaccination is required of workers. Otherwise, there is no law which requires everybody, including workers, to be vaccinated," he explained.

According to the IATF resolution, restaurants in areas under Alert Level 3 can offer indoor dining services at 30% capacity and al fresco dining at 50% capacity as long as the workers are fully vaccinated.

Early Thursday, Bello was quoted in reports saying that employers could now fire unvaccinated employees since the said provision obligates employers to ensure that their staff are immunized against COVID-19.

He said in the interview that this "is a case of misinformation."

Moreover, vaccination should not be made mandatory in the future, Bello said.

Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion has proposed to the government to make vaccination mandatory for those who interact directly with customers, such as those who work in hospitality, tourism, retail, and personal care services and those who engage in labor-intensive work like construction, automotive, wearables and manufacturing, electronic semiconductors and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).

"I don't think it's correct na bakunado na ang customers namin exclusively and yung empleyado namin ay hindi pa bakunado. So that's where we're also recommending that they impose that," he said on Friday.

[Translation: I don't think it's correct that our customers are vaccinated, but the workers aren't.]

Concepcion said Bello responded positively, saying they will study the recommendation.