Some hotels OK to operate at 100%; tests not required
MANILA, Philippines — Here’s a treat for Filipinos chafing under the world’s longest lockdown, and a potential lifesaver for tourism establishments and workers laid low by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Staycation hotels accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT) can now accept guests at 100-percent capacity and can even do away with the required testing for the coronavirus under the latest rules approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
But these establishments holding “certificates of authority to operate for staycation” can only accept guests between 18 and 65 years old, according to the IATF.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat thinks this breakthrough shows that the tourism industry has been able to adapt to the government’s rules to address the pandemic.
“It’s an indication that the tourism industry is adjusting to health and safety protocols as recommended by our health experts,” she said in a text message.
Puyat also said that in lieu of testing for COVID-19, experts from the Department of Health and the DOT had advised the implementation of stricter health and safety protocols including symptom screening.
The IATF resolution means that staycation hotels can operate at 100-percent capacity in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ), she explained.
The DOT’s staycation program only applies to GCQ areas where, as a general rule, leisure stay is not allowed, she said, adding that in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), all nonquarantine and nonisolation hotels can accommodate leisure guests.
From same household
The IATF resolution also states that other DOT-accredited accommodation establishments in GCQ areas may now accept guests for leisure purposes for up to 30 percent of their venue capacity, subject to DOT guidelines.
But the guests must come from the same household and the local government unit with jurisdiction over these establishments should monitor their compliance with minimum public health standards.
Earlier, in a move seen to help hotels recover from their losses due to the pandemic, 13 hotels in Metro Manila were opened to the public for staycations.
Tourism is one of the industries hardest hit by the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus infections.
The IATF has also approved steps to improve the use of StaySafe.ph, the national government’s contact tracing application of choice.
It approved the recommendation for the Joint Administrative Order for the Interoperability of All Contact Tracing Applications, and likewise adopted the use of modules for establishment protection as well as citizen application.
Even off-track betting stations of the Philippine Racing Commission are now allowed to resume operations in areas under GCQ and MGCQ.
But these would be limited to the purpose of selling tickets only, according to the IATF’s latest resolution.
The IATF also said minimum public health standards should be strictly observed.
Horse-racing activities were allowed to resume last year, a few months after all sports activities were halted at the beginning of the pandemic.
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