MANILA - As the Christmas season approaches, the government and the private sector recently launched the "Ingat Angat" campaign to encourage Filipinos to shop and dine out while staying safe from COVID-19.
As we enter the month of December and experience Christmas rush in places such as malls, markets and restaurants, here are useful tips from health agencies in staying safe when shopping and dining out this Yuletide season.
Maintain a safe distance of 2 meters from each other.
The Department of Health (DOH) has repeatedly advised the public to observe at least 2 meters or 6 feet distance from one another to avoid spreading the infectious disease.
Follow the spacing markers on establishments, or keep at least an arms length distance from another person at all times.
Wear face masks and shields outside.
The DOH's Guide to the New Normal explains that COVID-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets, which can be contained in our masks and shields.
Even if one is asymptomatic or doesn't know they have the virus, wearing of masks and shields will prevent the spreading of the virus.
"We do not know who may have COVID-19, [so] it is encouraged that everyone wear face masks," the DOH said.
Always wash and sanitize your hands.
Everyone is encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, as frequent as possible. If soap and water is not within reach, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
When coughing or sneezing, cover mouth and nose with face mask, tissue or portion of elbow.
Covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing promotes proper respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette. The DOH stressed that COVID-19 virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets, thus the need to shield yourself from potentially infecting other people.
Avoid touching your face.
Be mindful of what you do and what you touch with your hands. Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands as this will help contract the virus.
Should you need to touch your face, make sure to wash your hands first and sanitize thoroughly before touching any part of your face.
Opt for contactless payments instead of cash.
Various contactless payments via QR codes, online banking apps, and other online payment options on fintech apps are already emerging. Make use of these contactless payment options than paying in cash to avoid transmitting the virus from person to person.
Make sure restaurant utensils, glasses and plates are thoroughly clean and sterilized
Make sure that your utensils, plates and glasses when eating out are clean and sterilized. For another option, you may bring your own eating utensils for own personal use.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said there is currently no evidence that people can catch the virus from food or food packaging, as the virus is transmitted through coming into contact with respiratory droplets.
But restaurants are still required by the government to ensure cleanliness and sanitation of the establishments, as well as observe and maintain good hygienic practices (GHP) standards.
Do self screening of temperature and symptoms from time to time
When outside, people are advised to assess their condition frequently if they are experiencing symptoms or hotness in temperature. Fill out contact tracing forms in establishments to help you be aware of your temperature and existing symptoms, if there are any.
According to WHO and DOH, the symptoms of COVID-19 to watch out for are fever, tiredness, dry cough, aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, smell and taste loss, sore throat, diarrhea, or difficulty breathing.
Early telling of these signs may help you stay at home earlier and contain the spread of the virus.
When feeling unwell, it is better to stay at home.
When feeling signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and a spike in temperature, it is best to stay at home, rest and quarantine for 14 days, and drink plenty of water and eat healthy nutritious foods, the DOH said.
Going into the Christmas season, the public and the private sector are joining forces through Ingat Angat for the recovery of the Philippine economy by encouraging the public to again go out while practicing safety health protocols.
Gross domestic product (GDP) contracted three consecutive quarters so far this year as the pandemic slowed overall economic activity, which negatively impacted businesses and jobs.