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DOT hails IATF okay of meetings in GCQ areas

THE Department of Tourism (DOT) welcomed the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to allow some types of indoor business meetings in areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ).

The DOT deems this latest development as very encouraging for the country’s Meetings, Incentives, Conferences Exhibitions (MICE) sector to spur forward and backward linkages in tourism and other sectors concerned. While the pandemic has taught organizers to embrace technology, some gatherings in a physical set-up 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,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

Preliminarily, only the following venues for indoor meetings will be allowed: (1) restaurants in general; (2) restaurants attached to hotels; (3) ballrooms and function rooms within hotels; (4) other venues which may be in a separate building but within the hotel premises and (5) mall atria. On the other hand, only the following types of business meetings will be allowed: workshops, trainings, seminars, congresses, conferences, conventions, board meetings, colloquia, conclaves, symposia and consumer trade shows. Finally, venue capacity will be capped at thirty percent (30%).

Meanwhile, social events (like birthday, wedding, Christmas and office parties, pageants, award events, gala receptions, shows), product launch events, political gatherings, cultural festivities, and sporting events are not yet covered” the tourism chief stressed.

The DOT and DTI were directed and authorized by the IATF to formulate and issue the specific guidelines that will govern the conduct of these business-related meetings in the above-mentioned venues, from establishing the health and safety protocols (e.g. social distancing, food service, gatekeeping procedure) to establishing the conditions for operations of venues (e.g. hotel is not concurrently used as a quarantine facility or for housing of health care workers).

Notwithstanding, local government units (LGUs) may issue additional guidelines providing for stricter protocols among venues within their jurisdiction.

The DOT shall continuously work on improving our guidelines and policies, making sure that these remain responsive to the changing needs of the industry, as the COVID-19 situation continues to be addressed,” Puyat said.