The Department of Tourism has reduced the seating capacity in restaurants to 50 percent under the “new normal”.
In a circular released to media Wednesday, the department outlined the protocols for DOT-accredited restaurants in their operations covering management, set-up, employees and customers.
Restaurants are required to monitor the health of their employees and to provide personal food-safety apparel, training and annual check-ups.
The department also requires hotels and similar establishments to secure a certificate of authority to operate from it before resuming operations during the community quarantine.
“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,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
She said erring establishments faced penalties.
It mirrors the “new normal” in the airline industry, with cabin crew in protective suits, health certifications for passengers, mandatory face masks, and longer check-in times.
As people dream of taking to the skies once more, they face the prospect that changes to curb the spread of coronavirus will be even more challenging than those brought in after the 2001 terror attacks in the United States.
In addition to the strict security measures commonplace around the world since then, passengers will now encounter a barrage of checks for COVID-19.
The Transport department, meanwhile, said three more city bus routes would be launched today, Thursday, as part of the government’s gradual resumption of public transportation in Metro Manila.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the department said the three new routes were Route 4 or North Edsa-Fairview, Route 6 or Quezon Avenue-Edsa Taft Avenue, and Route 16 or Ayala Avenue-FTI.
The Tourism department’s guidelines for restaurants also contain a list of food safety and conduct standards, disinfection and sanitation protocols for different areas, furniture, wares and surfaces within that employees are expected to follow.
Restaurant owners are encouraged to install an alarm system that will remind employees to practice proper handwashing every 20 minutes, before and after meals, before wearing gloves, touching food or food-contact surfaces, and other specific actions.
In the absence of soap and water, 70-percent solution alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizers must be provided.
Customers must also wear masks, accomplish health declaration forms, undergo temperature checks, and practice proper handwashing and physical distancing when inside restaurant.
They will be required to provide their names and contact details in a contract-tracing log-sheet supplied by the establishment.
The guidelines include the establishment of pick-up or take-away zones for customers and improvements to the establishment’s table and seating arrangement, customer queueing, order-taking and payment systems. With AFP
Meanwhile, the operation of buffets and salad bars will remain prohibited.
In-house play areas, libraries, karaoke machines, leisure facilities and similar amenities will temporarily be suspended.
As for airlines, “before the pandemic, we were told to arrive two hours before the flight. This time we had to be at the airport at least four hours before flying,” said Indonesian Suyanto after taking a domestic route in late May.
There were multiple queues and screenings before he could even check in at the airport, he added.
Passengers in the country must declare a reason for flying, provide documentation proving they are virus-free, undergo multiple screenings, and offer details of their movements on arrival.
“It was more tiring and expensive. With these kinds of strict rules, I think people will think twice before travelling,” said the 40-year-old, who had to pay double the usual fare for his short flight as some seats were left empty for social distancing.
As the aviation industry attempts to find a way forward, experts warn the impact of the pandemic will be far-reaching.
“9/11 created a new environment for the entire travel industry in terms of security,” explained Shukor Yusof from Malaysia-based Endau Analytics.
While the fallout from the 2001 attacks could be used as an “indicator” of what to expect, the COVID-19 challenge was a “far more serious… global event”, he said.
The United Nations’ civil aviation agency has drawn up a set of guidelines for safe flying in the wake of the pandemic, from mandatory wearing of masks to the disinfection of areas people come in contact with.
In addition, industry body the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has suggested governments collect passenger data — including health information — ahead of travel, and that access to airports be restricted to staff and same-day travellers.
Other measures outlined in their guidelines include the redesign of gate areas to reduce congestion, faster and smoother boarding and baggage collection procedures, and even “prohibiting queues for the washrooms” to limit passenger interaction.
“The COVID-19 crisis is the biggest disruption in the history of the aviation industry. The recovery is going to be long and slow,” Albert Tjoeng, regional spokesman for IATA, told AFP.
Implementing new regulations is already proving challenging—and chaotic.
While some US airlines require masks be worn in-flight, it has proven difficult to enforce this rule if passengers are defiant. With AFP