Frontline workers of the tourism industry and Outbound OFWs for deployment within the next four months are now finally included in the A1 priority group of the national vaccination program.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat commended the National Task Force's (NTF) decision to include in the A1 priority group of the government's COVID-19 vaccination program the frontline tourism workers in accommodation establishments as isolation facilities or quarantine hotels.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez informed Puyat in his letter last week that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved the request of the Department of Tourism (DOT) to place the quarantine and isolation hotel workers under the A1 priority group which was initially intended for medical frontliners.
The medical frontliners (A1) were the first to be vaccinated in the government's vaccination program, followed by seniors (A2) and persons with comorbidities (A3). Vaccination for the A4 priority group, a larger group that includes other tourism frontliners, is expected to start next month.
"We are very pleased to inform you that the request for inclusion of frontline employees in accommodation establishments used as isolation or quarantine hotels in the Priority Population Group A1 has been favorably acted upon," Galvez said.
The tourism industry and its stakeholders would greatly benefit from the approval of the DOT's request, Puyat said and expressed her gratitude to Galvez and the NTF.
"We express our deepest gratitude to Secretary Galvez and the NTF. Most of our tourism workers were reporting for work even at the onset of the pandemic while most of the cities and municipalities were still under an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ)," she said.
"It is high time that we protect our tourism frontliners, knowing that they are risking their lives each time they show up in the designated quarantine and isolation hotels. This move shows the government's commitment to protecting them. Not only will this decision help ensure the survival of the tourism industry; this will also hasten the country's economic recovery," Puyat added.
Early this year, the IATF approved the DOT's proposal to include more tourism workers under the A4, in addition to those working in quarantine hotels and airports. Those under A4 include workers from the transport sector and the food, restaurant, and accommodation enterprises.
Besides the tourism workers, the IATF added, Outbound OFWs for deployment within the next four months and the immediate family members of healthcare workers in the A1 vaccination priority group.
To date, a total of 2,507 employees of quarantine hotels nationwide have been successfully inoculated against the COVID-19 virus.