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Full-capacity hotels subject to health rules

Hotels are now allowed to operate at full capacity in areas declared under modified community quarantine (MGCQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ), the Department of Tourism announced Wednesday.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat, however, stressed that the decision to open at 100 percent operational capacity will be subject to the hotel management’s decision and compliance with the safety guidelines.

The DOT has been given the authority, by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to allow hotels and accommodation establishments to operate at 100 percent capacity despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The IATF-EID resolution replaces the provision that accommodation establishments in areas under GCQ may only operate with a skeletal workforce.

It now provides that hotel operations may be governed by the issuances of relevant national agencies such as the DOT.

For accommodation establishments in areas declared to be under MGCQ, Resolution No. 79 provides that the DOT shall determine their allowable operational capacity from the previous provision of 50 percent operational capacity.

Operational capacity is defined by IATF as the number of employees who can be permitted to physically report to work on-site.

“Also approved in the said resolution is the easing up of inter-zonal and intrazonal movement, which is the predicate to reviving domestic tourism. Along with this comes the need to ready the whole tourism value chain, which includes the accommodation, transportation and tour operation sectors. Allowing the accommodation sector to operate at full capacity will be most welcomed by tourism’s workforce that has been greatly affected since the community lockdown,” Puyat said.

She said that the DOT shall soon issue the amended guidelines for the expanded operational capacity of hotels including staycation hotels.

Earlier, Puyat directed all hotels and other tourism establishments in areas declared to be under GCQ to secure a DOT Certificate of Authority to Operate for Staycations (DCAOS) before accommodating any guests for that purpose.

Researchers who have been tracking the COVID-19 pandemic warned Tuesday that the government cannot afford to underestimate the coronavirus, even as it eases restrictions.

The OCTA Research Team had earlier released its report on the COVID-19 situation in the country, which found that COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region (NCR)—the center of economic activity and site of the most number of COVID-19 cases—were decreasing, with the positivity rate down to 6 percent and reproduction rate at .70 or lower than the national reproduction rate of .80.

The same report, however, also identified the cities of Makati, Baguio, Mandaluyong, and Lucena as the top high-risk areas for COVID-19 due to an increased average of new cases recorded per day and critical care occupancy reaching 69 percent and above.

“The country’s trend is in the right direction. Cases will still go up as we continue to open the economy, but we should work so that it does not end up a surge or massive transmission to a level of 15,000 or 20,000 a day just like in European counties,” said Ranjit Rye of the Octa Research group in an interview on GMA News Online.

“That is why the worst thing to do now is to overestimate our achievements and for us to underestimate the virus. We have to stay prepared, careful and vigilant,” Rye said.

The Philippines logged 1,509 new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases Wednesday, bringing the total to 362,243, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.

This marks the fifth straight day in which fewer than 3,000 new cases were recorded and was the lowest since Sept. 7.

The DOH announced 911 recoveries bringing to 311,506 the total number of patients who have recovered from the disease.

The DOH also reported 60 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 6,747.

This left 43,990 active cases in the country. Of the number, 83 percent are mild cases; 11.6 percent are asymptomatic; 2 percent are severe, and 3.4 percent are critical.

Also on Wednesday, Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso said two quarantine facilities with bigger capacity and improved features will begin operating this week.

Domagoso and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan inaugurated the expanded San Andres Sports Complex quarantine facility, which will be followed by the opening of the same kind of facility at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) Thursday.

Domagoso said he would be very thankful if the facilities do not get to be used at all because this would mean that the populace is safe from the coronavirus. However, he stressed that there is a need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

As the government eases certain restrictions in an effort to improve the economy and provide jobs, Domagoso said there must be readiness on the part of local government units concerned in case of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

Topics: Department of Tourism , hotels , Bernadette Puyat , modified community quarantine
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