By Claire Morales True, Managing Editor
MANILA – Good news to families already bored due to self-quarantine in their homes.
The full operation of staycation hotels is now allowed amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved the recommendation of its technical working group to allow staycation hotels to operate up to “100 percent” of its venue capacity.
“On tourism-related matters, Department of Tourism (DOT)-accredited accommodation establishments with Certificates of Authority to Operate for Staycation may accommodate guests for staycation up to 100 percent venue capacity,” said Roque, who also serves as IATF-EID spokesperson.
Roque said staycation hotels may also forego the Covid-19 testing of guests as a prerequisite for accommodation, so long as their guests are aged 18 to 65.
The Department of Tourism led by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat immediately welcomed the pandemic task force’s decision to allow accredited accommodation establishments in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) to book leisure stays.
The DOT said the move would bring back significant revenues, especially to small hotels and private resorts in GCQ areas in the homestretch of the summer season.
“We welcome the IATF’s (Inter-Agency Task Force) decision to allow DOT-accredited Accommodation Establishments (AEs) in GCQ areas to accept guests for leisure. This will contribute to the return of livelihood and jobs that were lost during the pandemic,” Secretary Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.
In all cases, age restrictions are still in place and only guests aged 18 years to 65 years will be allowed to check in.
“We would have wanted to allow guests of all ages to be accommodated, knowing that when Filipinos go on vacation, we travel as a family. However, in every decision concerning the safe resumption of tourism during this pandemic, the DOT always puts premium on what our health experts recommend,” Puyat added.
She clarified that isolation or quarantine hotels are not allowed to accommodate leisure or staycation guests.
Originally, only hotels or accommodation establishments with DOT’s accreditation are allowed to accommodate guests and clients for legitimate purposes, according to the omnibus guidelines on the community quarantine in the country.
Roque said accommodation establishments in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) may accommodate guests for leisure purposes for up to 30 percent of their venue capacity, subject to DOT guidelines and other conditions.
IATF-EID Resolution 117, which was approved , said guests in accommodation establishments in GCQ zones “shall only come from the same household.”
“Provided, further, that the local government unit (LGUs) with jurisdiction over these Accommodation Establishments shall strictly monitor their compliance with minimum public health standards,” it said.
AEs were previously prohibited from accommodating guests for leisure purposes, except those that have been issued a Certificate of Authority to Operate for Staycation.
Under the new policy, hotels and resorts may now do so provided they are from the same household.
In areas under modified GCQ, AEs may accommodate leisure guests without the same-household requirement and without restriction as to the venue capacity, provided that minimum public health standards are observed.
“While we understand that strict health and safety protocols need to remain in place, DOT is happy with this development. We continue to issue the reminder that the safety of guests, residents and host communities should never be compromised,” Puyat said.
The IATF-EID resolution also allowed all staycation hotels accredited by the DOT to do away with the Covid-19 test requirement following the recommendation of health experts that “strict symptoms screening and observance of minimum public health standards are sufficient measures for staycation guests.”
She reiterated that isolation or quarantine hotels are not allowed to accommodate leisure or staycation guests.
The IATF resolution likewise states that local government units with jurisdiction over the AEs shall strictly monitor their compliance with minimum public health standards.
Travel to Baguio
MANILA — Good news wanting to travel after months of lockdown due to the pandemic.
People in Metro Manila and nearby provinces can now travel to Baguio City and areas under modified general community quarantine.
Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said a resolution issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force allows trips between NCR Plus and areas under the lowest quarantine status, meaning people of all ages can travel for leisure.
Romulo-Puyat said this development will help revive local tourism.
Puyat said the travel, must be point-to-point only, which means that while pit stops or stopovers are allowed for eating and personal necessities, no side trips shall be made to other tourism destinations.
The DOT added that those below 18 and above 65 years old will be subject to an RT-PCR test before travel.
In addition, commercial flights for leisure travel may now resume, an apparent easing of restriction from the previous arrangement when only chartered flight was allowed.
“We are looking forward to once again see our tourism destinations welcome tourists from the NCR Plus area. Of course, this has to be done with utmost precaution,” Secretary Romulo-Puyat said.
“The DOT shall continue to strengthen its coordination with our LGUs to ensure the strict compliance of health and safety protocols,” she added.
NCR Plus covers Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal.
Other interzonal travel regulations set by the LGUs concerned, or, in the case of Boracay Island, those imposed by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force, shall also apply.
“We continue to count on travelers to comply with minimum health protocols. I know our kababayans have been wanting to go out and enjoy during the summertime, but let us practice responsibility to protect ourselves and the communities in your chosen destinations,” Puyat added.
From June 1 to 30, the following places are under GCQ: NCR Plus, Abra, Baguio City, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Batangas, Quezon, Iligan City, Davao City, Lanao del Sur and Cotabato City.
On the other hand, under the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from June 1 to 15 are the following areas: Santiago and Cagayan in Region 2, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Puerto Princesa, Iloilo City, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Cagayan de Oro City, Butuan City and Agusan del Sur.
The rest of the country are under MGCQ until June 30.
The secretary said the resolution requires individuals under 18 years old and over 65 to present a COVID-19 test result, but she later clarified that those who fall within the 18 to 65 age group should also show test results if required by local governments of their destinations. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
“Allowed na ang interzonal, pero kinakailangan po point-to-point lamang. Wala po siyang age restrictions pero meron pong testing-before-travel requirement,” he said in a media briefing.
Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal — collectively dubbed as NCR Plus — are under general community quarantine in the period June 1 to 15.