DOT introduces apps to help restaurants, businesses operate ‘contact-free’

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism this week introduced digital apps that would help businesses including food establishments reopen with contact-free operations.

On Tuesday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced that dine-in services of restaurants and fast food chains would be allowed to operate at 50% capacity in modified general community quarantine areas.

This was a day after the DOT and the DTI jointly recommended health and safety protocols for restaurant dining operations to the inter-agency taskforce for COVID-19.

“The resumption and continued operations of the restaurants during quarantine and during the new normal will depend on the strict compliance of the stakeholders to the said healthy and safety protocols,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a virtual press briefing on Tuesday.

She said the agencies would conduct post-audit mechanism for the both agencies to ensure that all restaurants follow the prescribed standards.

Meanwhile, she encouraged voluntary accreditation of restaurants with the DOT as small and medium-sized enterprises would be given free access to the digital solutions the government agencies would soon provide.

SafePass, Dine-In Express

The DOT and the DTI are working together with an inclusion tech venture builder Talino Venture Labs to provide free digital solutions for accredited businesses to help them meet the technological demands of the new normal.

Among these digital solutions are applications called SafePass,an all-digital, contact-free authorizing, scheduling, and contact tracing solution to help businesses operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic situation as well as Dine-In Express that helps restaurant pivot to digital operations.

The companion technology of SafePass, Dine-In Express, covers menu builder, electronic payment Interface, order tickets, takeout scheduler and delivery tickets features.

“Not only is it important to open the restaurant we wanna make sure also that the resto can thrive and survive and can maximize its ability to survive as safely as possible,” Winston Damarillo, founder of Devcon Philippines and CEO of Talino Venture Labs, said in the same virtual press briefing.

“So we created Dine-In which is a technology that allows restaurants to present their menu digitally. So, no more paper menu that people get hands out. They would simply point it to QR code and the restaurant’s menu is presented to them. It’s similar to a Japanese model of ordering ramen before getting in,” he added.

Puyat said that restaurants can operate without applications but the developer is offering it for free to DOT-accredited restaurants.

During the enhanced community quarantine, restaurants shifted majority of their operations to take-out and delivery.

Outlook for Philippine food and beverage industry

Renowned chef Margarita Fores, owner of Cibo di M Signature Caterer, said the outflook for the food and beverage industry appeared to to the continued pivot to delivery and adjustment of offerings as well as contactless dining.

Some of the members of her team changed roles during the community quarantine from becoming restaurant servers to courier for her food deliveries.

“We have to keep reinventing ourselves,” she said, adding that her catering services now offer custom-made meals amid the cancellation of events to compensate for the financial loss brought by COVID-19.

Fores said that it could be the death of buffet restaurants for now as that dining concept was jaded by the idea that transmission of virus is more prevalent which she cited occurred in the COVID-19 infected cruise ships.

Last April 17, The Eater reported that French restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten reopened his businesses in Shanghai and Guangzhou at the end of March abiding by government rules and several restrictions. China’s business is estimated to be at 40 or 50% then.

“Taking the temperature from all the chefs, taking temperature from the customers as well; no table bigger than four, spaced six to eight feet between tables. Nobody touches money, so people go to an app for the restaurant on their phone, the waiter just brings wine, water, and food,” Vongerichten was quoted by The Eater.

“It’s very limited, restricted, but it seems to be working… But the strangest change is the sound: Nobody talks to anybody, and it’s deathly quiet in the dining room,” he also said.

Is COVID-19 the death of restaurants?

Bel Castro, assistant dean of the College of Hospitality Management in Enderun Colleges, said that despite the massive changes in the food and beverage industry globally, she believes that restaurants will not die or be obsolete.

“I think the restaurant will come back people will still dine. Delivery only gives you food. I go to the restaurant for commensality, emotional connection. It’s not the same,” Castro said in April during the “Future of Food” webinar of Metro Magazine.







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