Written by: Andie
Visual by: Yana
Edited by: Leela
On the 30th of September, the Philippines’ Department of Tourism (DOT) released amended guidelines encouraging ‘staycations’ within General Quarantine (GCQ) areas such as Metro Manila and Cebu city.
These amendments were approved by the Philippine government in a bid to revive the local tourism industry, and in order to “explore various ways of restarting tourism activities during quarantine,” according to DOT secretary, Berna Puyat (Rappler). The first of October marked the beginning of these changes, which is perfect for Bearcats seeking to ease their cabin fever, get a dose of fresh air, and a change of pace during the October break.
DOT Administrative Order No. 2020-006-A was released, amending a previous order released 5 days prior, with the following guidelines:
- Every guest is required to present a negative rapid antigen test result, conducted on the same day of check in.
- People of all ages are included under this amendment, including previously restricted youth under 21 years of age, as well as senior citizens. The only people exempted from this change are people with underlying or pre-existing medical conditions.
- A minimum of one overnight stay in other GCQ areas is permitted (CNN).
- Hotels accepting guests are required to have a certificate of authority to operate from DOT.
- Establishments should not currently be used as quarantine or isolation facilities for repatriated OFWs, returning Filipinos from abroad, or as quarters for health workers. If an area was previously used with this purpose, proof of sanitation and disinfection should be presented.
- Establishments must provide basic accommodation services to guests, and operate using a skeletal ‘in-house’ workforce.
Although the feeling of apprehension in this opportunity is understandable, tourism secretary Berna Puyat assures that, “safety remains the DOT’s top priority,” and that,“ establishments that offer staycation services will be strictly monitored. They will be required to keep a record of occupancy and submit it every 10th of the month to the relevant DOT regional office and local government unit (LGU) tourism office for data analysis purposes.”
Additionally, we must acknowledge the importance of this bid to revive the tourism industry of the Philippines, which has affected the livelihood of thousands of workers, leaving both them and their families in limbo. Puyat adds, “This decision adds to the DOT’s drive to slowly but safely resume tourism in the country and finally bring back jobs to our workers in the industry.”
Other areas of the country are also opening up, such as Baguio city and Boracay (Good News Pilipinas). Areas such as Tagaytay have even implemented further safety measures, such as a weekly closure for disinfection of all hotels, restaurants, fast-food chains, amusement parks, and souvenir shops. Establishments caught violating the order will face a one-week closure on the first offence, and a one-month closure for the second (Rappler) In Boracay, other safety protocols have been similarly introduced, such as beach viewing and sunbathing only being allowed at 200m intervals within the 6 designated swimming areas. As such, swimmers will be asked to register their names, addresses, and contact numbers prior to being allowed onto the beach (Good News Pilipinas).
However, if you are planning to take up these staycation offers, remember to weigh the risks of doing so and to be conscious of upholding the current standards set in place. Protocols such as wearing a face mask and face shield, observing social distancing, and continuing to sanitize your hands thoroughly after being in a public space.
With the stress of the last few months dealing with COVID, along with the added stressors of school and college application deadlines, almost everyone is looking forward to the much needed break this October. Taking advantage of these GCQ areas reopening might just be the change of scenery we all need.
Alyssa Leyda-Aldemo, et al. “Boracay Reopens Beaches with New Safety Guidelines.” Good News Pilipinas, 3 June 2020, http://www.goodnewspilipinas.com/boracay-reopens-beaches-with-new-safety-guidelines/.
Ranada, Pia. “’Staycations’ to Be Allowed in GCQ Areas like Metro Manila Starting October 1.” Rappler, Rappler, 15 Sept. 2020, http://www.rappler.com/nation/staycations-to-be-allowed-gcq-areas-like-metro-manila.
The Good News Pilipinas Team -, et al. “UPDATE: Philippines Allows Tourists of All Ages for Staycation in GCQ Areas.” Good News Pilipinas, 1 Oct. 2020, http://www.goodnewspilipinas.com/update-philippines-allows-tourists-of-all-ages-for-staycation-in-gcq-a reas/.
Abrina, Dennis. “Tagaytay Orders Hotels, Restaurants Closed Every Monday for Disinfection.” Rappler, Rappler, 4 Oct. 2020, http://www.rappler.com/nation/tagaytay-orders-hotels-restaurants-closed-monday-disinfection
Staff, CNN Philippines. “DOT Issues Guidelines for ‘Staycations’ under GCQ Areas.” Cnn, http://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2020/9/29/DOT-guidelines-staycations-GCQ-areas.html.