The Department of Tourism (DOT) has released the Health and Safety Guidelines Governing the Operations of Accommodation Establishments under the New Normal, indicating quite a number of significant changes in the country’s frontline tourist services.
DOT Memorandum Circular No. 2020-002 signed by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Friday, pursuant to Republic Act 11469 or Bayanihan to Heal As One Act and RA 6593 or Tourism Act of 2009, cites the need to provide guidelines to institutionalize updated health and safety protocols in the operations of accommodation establishments under the New Normal Scenario.
“ We assure our stakeholders that the DOT Guidelines will prove responsive to the needed changes brought about by this pandemic,” said the DOT chief.
Puyat issued the memorandum circular days after she presented to the Senate of Committee of the Whole the preparations and response measures being mapped out by the DOT to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on public health and spur economic recovery.
“The tourism sector, with the support of the government, will recover and resume once travel restrictions have been lifted following the safety protocols and measures for the new normal in travel,” Puyat said.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases defines the “New Normal” as emerging behaviors, situations, and minimum public health standards that will be institutionalized in common or routine practices and remain even after the pandemic while the disease is not totally eradicated.
The comprehensive Guidelines provide for the operations of accommodation establishments (AEs) in the areas of Guest Handling; Reception and Concierge; Rooms and Housekeeping; Food and Beverage Service; Kitchen Sanitation and Disinfection; Public Areas; Hotel and Transport Service; Engineering and Maintenance Service; Business Practices and Management; and Suppliers of Goods and Services.
Under Section 5, Guest Handling Policy, the establishment is required: 1) To have the guests complete a Health Declaration Form upon check-in; 2) to encourage online payment upon booking; and 3) to conduct body temperature checking using a thermal scanner at the hotel entrances shall be undertaken for all guests by qualified health or medical staff or trained hotel personnel.
Only guests cleared during screening shall be allowed to enter the hotel perimeter to check-in.
Section 5 further states that guests must be provided with reminder cards, which may include the following: 1) No sharing of food or any personal or non-personal belongings; 2) Proper disposal of used PPE; 3) Mingling with occupants of other rooms are not encouraged; 4) Practice of proper handwashing etiquette/hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and proper use of face mask; and 5) Strict observance of Physical Distancing.
Among the other highlights of the Guidelines include: Precautionary measures on physical distancing, hand cleaning, and respiratory etiquette must be strictly observed; wearing of masks by front desk personnel attending to guests; use of disposable gloves when handling cash or documents, and/or materials that are passed from person to person.
For the reception or front desk officer, hand-shaking is not advised instead the practice of the Filipino Brand of Service (FBS) or the “Mabuhay” gesture in greeting guests, as well as other forms of contactless greeting, is encouraged.
Only single up to double room occupancy is allowed. Couples or family members who share the same household may be allowed in double or twin occupancy rooms. A distance of 1-2 meters between the beds is highly encouraged.
Section 15 of the Guidelines also lists the measures that must be complied within the management of symptomatic guests, among them: 1) Create a holding area for symptomatic guests; 2) Immediately refer symptomatic guests to the nearest hospital; 3) Assure guests of assistance in case they begin to manifest symptoms such as fever and/or cough; 4) Keep the symptomatic guest confined in the room originally used until trained transport providers are available to transport him or her to designated referral hospital.
The staff must immediately inform the doctor on duty or the emergency response team for assistance for coordination to the referral hospital or the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) for assessment if any staff is concerned about the condition of a guest, or if a guest requests access to medical services.
The Section also reminds the staff and personnel to avoid employing any discriminatory action against any sick person with high fever and cough for fear of contracting or spreading the disease.
For Accommodation Establishments in areas declared to be under a Community Quarantine, Administrative Order No. 2020-002 or the Community Quarantine Guidelines for Hotel Operations shall primarily govern, and the New Normal Health and Safety Guidelines shall apply in a suppletory character.