DOT and DTI paid a visit to a hotel in Ortigas to monitor its health and safety compliance. From left: Marco Polo Ortigas Manila general manager Frank Reichenbach, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto.

Currently, under the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) during a more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ), hotels and restaurants are allowed only to have 30-percent operational capacity.   

As hotels and restaurants struggle to survive the economic effects of the pandemic, two government agencies are considering increasing the operational capacity of these establishments even during a prolonged GCQ. 

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Tourism (DOT) are open to the proposal to increase the operational capacity of hotels and restaurants provided that these businesses adhere to government protocols and health parameters.

“In such a case that GCQ might be extended for much longer, DTI and DOT are also considering increasing the operating capacity of these establishments we are inspecting. This can be done even in GCQ, provided that compliance to the health and safety guidelines remains high and the health statistics in the country remain stable and manageable,” according to Trade and Industry Secretary Secretary Ramon Lopez. 

“Given those conditions, we can confidently propose an increase in the working capacity moving forward. The higher operating capacity, the more jobs and sources of income we can provide for our workers,” Lopez added.

The DTI and DOT, with other government officials, paid a visit to selected hotels and restaurants in Ortigas Center on July 1 to monitor their adherence to government health protocols. 

Lopez commended the application of technology by these establishments with the cashless payment options, and the use of QR codes to access menus and establishment information to encourage physical distancing among customers.

Likewise, he encouraged the digitalization of the health declaration process to make contact tracing more efficient. 

The compliance rate of food establishments that were monitored range from 95 to 100 percent. This was based on official reports from daily nationwide monitoring efforts conducted by different teams from DTI, DOT, the departments of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Health (DOH), Interior and Local Government (DILG), together with the respective local government units (LGUs).

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, who was with Lopez during the monitoring activity, commended the collective efforts of stakeholders to abide by the prescribed health and safety guidelines.

“It is important for us to sustain these efforts as they will influence how we rebuild consumer trust and regain tourist confidence in the Philippines,” she said. 

“It was also inspiring to experience how establishments have stepped up to keep our brand of Filipino hospitality—even behind face masks and physical distancing—while we are still in the midst of this pandemic,” Puyat said. 

It can be recalled that dine-in establishments were allowed to operate under GCQ on June 15. They would then be allowed to operate in MGCQ areas at the maximum seating capacity of 50 percent.

“While we recognize that earnings remain below break even with the current arrangements, we are also very grateful for businesses and their sacrifices, which have helped not only restart the generation of jobs, income, and revenue, but also restore consumer confidence,” Lopez said.