DOT mandates maximum of double occupancy for hotels under ‘new normal’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 21, 2020   •   130

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has mandated hotels and other tourism-related accommodations to only have a maximum of double occupancy as part of the ‘new normal’.

According to DOT Usec. Arturo Boncato, they will limit the occupancy or capacity of hotel accommodations up to two persons per room. This also includes limiting the number of customers in restaurants.

“DOT will be mandating a maximum of double occupancy for all of the hotels. And for restaurants starting with 50% occupancy in terms of operations for in-dining,” he said.

The Tourism Department said they will release the set of policies to be implemented once the operation of tourism-related establishments resume under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

Other safety measures include regular sanitation and disinfection, supply of sanitation/disinfecting provisions for workers; regular inspection of health and safety standards being implemented. AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

LOOK: Deped’s proposed class seat arrangement for possible face-to-face learning

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 25, 2020

The Department of Education (Deped) has proposed classroom seating arrangements in case face-to-face learning will be implemented for the upcoming school year.

In a post, Deped reiterated there will be no face-to-face learning unless it is safe for students to go out. However, as part of their preparations for the opening of classes, they proposed a seating arrangement that will still adhere to social distancing.

Deped showed layouts for classrooms with armchairs and classrooms with tables and chairs. Both have a 1-meter distance to observe proper social distancing. AAC

PH Immigration to use digitized arrival cards, boarding passes for passengers under ‘new normal’

Robie de Guzman   •   May 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is looking to implement the use of digitized arrival cards and records for “more effective passenger monitoring” and lessen person-to-person contact at ports amid the continuing outbreak of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement on Wednesday, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the measure comes after President Rodrigo Duterte informed Congress that the bureau will soon launch an advanced passenger processing and information system, and use digitized arrival cards and boarding passes for international passengers entering and exiting the country’s ports.

“These new paperless travel control systems and procedures are just among several innovative protocols that we will be introducing under a new normal environment during this pandemic,” Morente said.

The Immigration chief explained that the new protocols are designed not only to achieve social distancing by lessening person-to-person contact between officers and passengers but also to facilitate contact tracing, if needed.

“While the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) collects information from arriving passengers for contact tracing, we have extended our help by providing other details that are found in our arrival cards,” he said.

“These information have proven to be helpful in locating persons that need to be monitored,” he added.

Morente further stated that the bureau is discussing with different airlines the mechanics and procedures for implementing the said initiatives so these could become operational as soon as possible.

He said these initiatives are among the administration’s priority projects as this “would not only help in contact tracing but would also allow our port operations to more effectively monitor and screen arriving foreign nationals.”

Said system is being used by many developed countries, which we can also adopt and use in our fight against COVID-19,” he said.

According to BI Port Operations Division chief Grifton Medina, the digitized arrival cards will be filled out by Philippine-bound passengers at their port of origin prior to their departure for the Philippines.

“This would enable us to easily track details of a passenger as the data will be integrated and sorted in our system,” Medina said.

“Should information be needed for contact tracing, we wouldn’t have to manually dig into boxes of arrival cards which take up precious time. With one click, we would be able to provide the data faster to contact tracers,” he added.

Medina said the move to transition from paper-based arrival cards aims to reduce objects that may possibly transmit infectious agents from a passenger to the officers.

He added that the bureau is likewise urging airlines to use QR or bar codes in a passenger’s mobile device as their boarding pass, which will also be integrated into the BI’s system.

“This will create a fully paperless transaction during immigration assessment, reduce the risk of transmission, and allow for more efficient monitoring,” he said.

New normal: No more ‘whisper bidding’ at Navotas Fishport

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the way people move and transact business in Metro Manila’s main fish center, the Navotas Fishport. 

Strict screening protocols have been placed right at the very entrance of the port. 

Each arriving vehicle goes through disinfection and all individuals must also disinfect in designated foot baths and wash areas before entering the facility.

All are also being checked for body temperature.

According to Dr. Mario Pascual, president of the Navotas Fish Traders Association,  only 50 percent of the previous number of traders are allowed inside the facility to maintain physical distancing. 

They also adjusted the start of the facility’s night time operation from the previous 6:00 p.m. to as early as 4:00 p.m.

Mas mahaba na iyong oras nila ng pamimili dito at naiiwasan ang pagdagsa ng mga tao sa limitadong oras lang (Trading hours are longer, it prevents the surge of people that usually occurs in a limited time),” he said. 

The presence of police personnel is also evident and protocol officers are visible to make sure that the necessary health measures are being observed such as wearing of face masks.

Likewise, they changed the bidding process to comply with the new health protocols.

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, buyers used to do the traditional “bulungan” or whispering of bids to brokers to outbid the competition. 

But today, they are just required to write their bid on a piece of paper and hand it over to the broker. 

“Dati ibinubulong ngayon isinusulat (In the past they would whisper [their bids] but now, they have to write it down),” said Wilhelm Sijuco Jr., a broker at the fishport.

Maria Regina Loria, a general manager in one of the companies at the fishport, noted the obvious impact of the outbreak on their industry. 

She said even if they have enough supply of fish, there are few buyers to sell to since most consumers are affected by the lockdown. 

“Minsan matumal din […] dahil karamihan ng linggo naka-lockdown ang mga palengke natin (Business is slow […] because most days of the week public markets are closed due to the lockdown),” she observed. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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