DOT issues guidelines for hotels under ECQ
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - March 20, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) has released the guidelines for hotels and accommodation establishments during the month-long enhanced community quarantine in Luzon due to the coronavirus disease 2019 or  COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on operations of accommodation establishments during the enhanced community quarantine issued by the DOT on March 18, no hotels, resorts, tourist inns, motels and the like are allowed to operate, apart from those that fall under the exemptions.

The DOT earlier announced that select hotels with foreign guests that have existing booking accommodations as of March 17 and those with checked-in guests on long-term leases will be allowed to operate during the quarantine period.

However, these hotels are not allowed to accept new bookings.

Apart from the abovementioned, DOT said hotels accommodating employees from exempted establishments under the provisions of the March 16 memorandum from the Executive Secretary will be allowed to operate and accept new bookings.

Among the exempted establishments are those providing basic necessities and such activities related to food and supermarkets, grocery stores, hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies and drug stores, food preparation and delivery services, water-refilling stations, manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products and medicines, banks, money transfer services, power, energy, water and telecommunications supplies and facilities.

Business process outsourcing (BPO) and export-oriented industries are also allowed to operate.

“Moreover, all accommodation establishments that are allowed to operate must report on a regular basis to the DOT the number of their staff comprising its skeletal workforce as well as details about the guests booked with them,” DOT said.

It added that said hotels are also expected to maintain limited operations and staff, ensure proper sanitation and disinfection, and implement social distancing measures.

The DOT also appealed to accommodation establishments to significantly reduce their rates for health workers and other frontliners who are affected by the shutdown of mass transportation.

“Everyone’s cooperation is needed at this time to help flatten the curve. Let us help those who cannot stay at home, those who work at the front lines every day,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

Philippine Hotel Owners Association (PHOA) president Arthur Lopez told The STAR earlier that the group is ready to comply with the directive of the government.

“We will comply with whatever directive the government has issued or announced because this is to ensure the stop of the COVID-19. That is our position,” Lopez said.

He added that member hotels will no longer accept new bookings, however, it will continue to accommodate guests that are currently checked-in respective hotels.

Lopez acknowledged that the hotel industry is suffering from the whole COVID-19 situation, but emphasized that the suspension of operations is something that needs to be done in the short term to help the industry recover in the long-term.

“We’re all suffering, but I am sure that we will be able to recover,” Lopez said.

Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) President Christine Ibaretta said earlier that hotel sales and marketing have already been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with hotel occupancy down to 36 to 49 percent from 75 to 98 percent in the past.

“Clients do not accept our sales calls,” Ibaretta said adding that this has resulted in four-day workweeks, work from home schemes and the use of sick leaves and vacation leaves by employees.

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