Still no buffets, salad bars when ban on outdoor dining is lifted
MANILA, Philippines — Buffets and salad bars will be prohibited at Department of Tourism (DOT)-accredited restaurants when the government allows the return of outdoor dining with the easing of coronavirus quarantine measures.
In a memorandum dated June 6, the DOT said the operation of other features of the restaurants, such as in-house play areas, libraries and karaoke machines, would be temporarily suspended.
“The DOT remains committed to its ‘slow but sure’ approach [to] reopening the tourism industry,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement on Wednesday. “To make this happen, we expect strict compliance from [the industry with the quarantine rules]. The only way we can jump-start tourism is to regain the confidence of our visitors.”
Under the rules, DOT-accredited restaurants must require diners to fill out health declaration forms, monitor the body temperature of their employees, and provide their staff with personal food safety apparel and annual checkups.
The restaurants should also reduce their customer capacity to 50 percent.
Restaurant owners are encouraged to install an alarm system that will remind employees to wash their hands every 20 minutes, before and after meals, before wearing gloves, touching food or food-contact surfaces, and other specific actions. Use of alcohol or alcohol-based sanitizers is also encouraged.
The rules include standards on in-house and delivery services, such as establishment of pickup or take away zones for customers, and overall improvements to the restaurants’ table and seating arrangements, customer queuing, order-taking and payment systems.
Puyat urged restaurants to shift to contactless transactions for taking orders or receiving payment from customers.
In an online news forum, Puyat said the DOT and the Board of Investments would grant tax incentives to tourism enterprises that would renovate, modernize and upgrade their facilities for health and safety purposes. The incentives will be income tax holiday for three years and duty-free importation of capital equipment.
DOT-accredited restaurants are considered secondary establishments. Puyat said seeking accreditation was voluntary, although many restaurants were applying for it as additional seal of good housekeeping.
In another statement, Puyat said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, the temporary government body overseeing the Duterte administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis, had affirmed the requirement for a DOT certificate for accommodation establishments resuming operations under lighter quarantine rules.
The task force had resolved that hotels, resorts and other accommodation establishments “may operate only upon the issuance of a certificate of authority to operate by the DOT.”
“This is a welcome development for us to ensure that the safety and health of visitors will be given utmost priority and will not be compromised,” Puyat said.
She said certification remained free.
DOT-accredited hotels and other accommodation establishments need only submit letters of intent to operate to the department’s regional offices, she said.
Accommodation establishments not already accredited by the DOT must apply for accreditation to ensure compliance with basic requirements before they can be allowed to operate, she added.
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