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Hotel ‘staycations’ allowed in GCQ areas

Hotels in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) may soon accept “staycation” guests aside from  ealth workers and exempted employees, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has confirmed.

“Upon the recommendation of the Department of Tourism to explore various ways in restarting tourism activities during quarantine, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved during its Principals Meeting on 10 September 2020 to allow staycations under GCQ,” Romulo-Puyat said in a text message.

She defined staycation as a “minimum overnight stay for leisure purposes” in a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment near one’s residence.

For instance, residents of Metro Manila can check-in at a hotel within the National Capital Region subject to the requirements of the local government unit.

Romulo-Puyat said the DOT would soon issue a memorandum circular on staycations under GCQ based on comments and suggestions of the IATF-EID.

The memorandum circular would have specific regulations on all aspects involved in this activity, ranging from the maximum allowable number of persons in a guestroom to the use of ancillary services, such as restaurants and recreational areas.

In the IATF-EID’s Resolution 70, hotels were also allowed to accommodate guests that fall under “markets of specialized programs of the DOT.

Romulo-Puyat said these programs would focus on “specific target markets that can safely contribute” to the efforts of restarting economic activities through tourism. But she declined to divulge who could be tagged as target markets pending the release of the guidelines.

COVID cases

The number of COVID-19 cases in the country increased on Saturday to 257,863 after reporting 4,935 new confirmed cases of the highly contagious virus, Department of Health data showed.

Recoveries have reached 187,116, according to the DOH’s latest bulletin, and the death toll is now 4,292, after 186 new fatalities were reported.

To date, the Philippines has 66,455 active coronavirus cases, of which 90.4 percent of the patients are exhibiting mild symptoms, official DOH figures showed.

Isolation facilities

The government will add at least 5,000 beds in different isolation facilities nationwide, as the Philippines ramps up efforts to test more Filipinos for coronavirus disease.

Government testing czar Vince Dizon on Saturday said the usage of antigen tests - which are expected to deliver COVID-19 tests results within 15 minutes - will increase the number of people needing to be isolated.

Dizon said: “This is why we need to isolate them fast and trace their close contacts fast. We believe that this new intervention will increase and strengthen our response vs COVID-199 while we reopen our economy.”

Facebook account

The Joint Task Force COVID Shield on Saturday said it had created a Facebook account where the netizens could directly report blatant violations of quarantine protocols.

In a statement, Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, commander of the JTF COVID Shield, said the move was part of its effort to empower the people not only to help the government in the enforcement of the quarantine rules but also in protecting themselves and their community from “hardheaded” people, who defy the protocols in observing minimum health safety standards.

Eleazar said: “We in the JTF COVID Shield believe that most of our netizens have already come across with total disregard of having quarantine violations in their accounts through the uploaded photos and videos of their Facebook friends.

“And we share disappointment and anger against those people because it is really unfair that most of our kababayan are strictly abiding by the rules while there are people who even dare to flaunt their defiance by posting them in the social media.”

The photos and videos that would be sent will be used as basis in the verification of the police in coordination with the local government units (LGUs) concerned, particularly the barangay officials.

Earlier, Philippine National Police Chief General Camilo Pancratius Cascolan emphasized the need for the barangay level enforcement of the quarantine rules, saying a good coordination between the police and the barangay officials could lead to effective prevention of the spread of the COVID-19.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also encouraged netizens to help the government enforce the quarantine rules, saying they are also in the better position to monitor social media for violations of community quarantine protocols in their respective communities.

Quarantine violations

Meanwhile, Eleazar assured the public that the identity and other information of those who would report quarantine violations in the social media would be protected.

He also gave assurance that no violation of privacy would be made since the JTF COVID Shield and the PNP supported and respected the Data Privacy Act.

“The PNP will not monitor private social media accounts because first, it is illegal and second, our local police stations do not have the capability to do it,” Eleazar said.

Topics: general community quarantine , Bernadette Romulo-Puyat , hotels , Department of Tourism
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