DOT postpones mall fest amid COVID-19 threat
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Saturday announced the postponement of the nationwide mall sale portion of the March 2020 Philippine Shopping Festival, saying there was a need to prioritize public health amid the “alarming rise” of coronavirus cases worldwide.
The Philippine Shopping Festival was supposed to be part of DOT’s efforts to boost domestic tourism to compensate for the decreased international visitors and tourism income due to travel restrictions here and abroad.
Malls free to operate
“As much as we want to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19, the safety of our citizens remains our priority. We advise the general public to maintain proper hygiene and follow the guidelines set by the Department of Health to contain the spread of the virus,” a statement by the DOT quoted Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat as saying.
She recalled that during the Taal Volcano eruption in January, the DOT had recommended that tourism establishments cease operations in the affected areas.
“The malls are still free to continue its day to day operations. The DOT also recommends that malls follow the precautionary measures set by the Department of Health such as checking the temperatures of mall-goers before allowing them to enter and the provision of more hand sanitizers in their premises,” the DOT said.
The festival will continue in selected tourism establishments such as hotels, airlines, travel and tour operators, and other specific tourism product sellers such as diving trips and conventions.
Philippine carriers have begun canceling flights to and from South Korea, following the partial travel ban imposed by the Interagency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The Philippine Airlines (PAL) said it would be cancelling one daily flight and its five-times-a-week flight to and from Seoul for the entire March. Also canceled were thrice- and twice-a -week flights to and from Busan.
“We will retain a number of flights to/from Seoul and Busan to serve travelers not covered by the travel ban,” PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said in a statement.
She said PAL will retain one daily flight to and from Seoul from March 1 to 11. This will become twice a week from March 12 to 31.
PAL will also be mounting the one flight for the Manila-Busan-Manila route on March 1, 3 and 7. From March 8 to 28, PAL will only be flying to Busan twice a week, and once from March 29 to 31.
Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific said it will be canceling three of its flights from Manila, Cebu and Kalibo to Seoul and vice versa from March 3 to April 30.
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