IATF allows more events, functions
The ban on Christmas parties remains, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

IATF allows more events, functions

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - December 5, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Starting this Christmas season, the conduct of group events in hotels, restaurants and malls located in areas under general community quarantine such as Metro Manila will be allowed, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) said on Thursday.

These events are limited to workshops, training, seminars, congresses, conferences, board meetings, colloquia, conclaves, symposia and consumer trade shows.

Also, the events should occupy only 30 percent of the venue capacity, which include restaurants in general, restaurants attached to hotels, ballrooms and function halls within hotels, venues within hotel premises and mall atria.

The ban on Christmas parties remains, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat also noted that social events like birthdays, weddinsg, Christmas and office parties, pageants, award events, gala receptions, shows, product launch events, political gatherings, cultural festivities and sporting events are not yet allowed under IATF Resolution 87 signed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles this week.

But Puyat said the move to allow certain types of business meetings is encouraging for the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) sector, and should spur forward and backward linkages in tourism and other sectors.

“While the pandemic has taught organizers to embrace technology, some gatherings in a physical setup can now proceed, with health and safety protocols in place. We are optimistic that the country’s MICE sector shall start to thrive again, with the support of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in crafting the implementing guidelines,” she added.

Business groups Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) also see the IATF move as a positive development that would help spur economic activity.

“The move will help boost the economy. It is consistent with the government’s desire to return to normalcy. It will lend a helping hand to the hotel and accommodation industry, which is highly impacted by the pandemic,” said MAP president Francis Lim.

While PCCI president Benedicto Yujuico said it is a way to return to a better normal, he also suggested an increase in the allowed capacity.

“I hope that the IATF will increase the capacity guidelines because, realistically, 30 percent is not the point where it makes a difference. For instance, a quorum needs between 51 to 67 percent present. Seminars and learning opportunities will not be financially viable at a 30-percent capacity,” Yujuico pointed out.

In the resolution, the IATF directed the Department of Tourism and DTI to issue the necessary guidelines and approved the recommendation of the Cabinet Secretariat to implement the safety seal certification program in addition to StaySafe.ph.

It also required all establishments – such as government offices, private companies, hotels and business establishments, and public transportation units – to adopt the safety seal program.

To enable them to secure the seal, the IATF directed the DTI, DOT and the Departments of Health (DOH), of Labor and Employment (DOLE), of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and of Transportation (DOTr) to issue the necessary joint memorandum circular to detail the requirements.

In issuing Resolution 87, the IATF noted statistics that showed 27,642 active cases of COVID-19 as of Dec. 3.

Earlier, the government announced that Metro Manila, Batangas, Lanao del Sur and Davao del Norte as well as the cities of Iloilo, Tacloban, Iligan and Davao would remain under GCQ until Dec. 31.

The rest of the country remains under the most lenient modified GCQ until the end of the year. – Catherine Talavera, Louella Desiderio

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