The Department of Tourism (DOT) is targeting the opening of “staycations” in General Community Quarantine (GCQ) areas beginning October 1.

But Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat rejected any move by hotels or any other accommodation establishments to operate as a mix of “staycation” and quarantine facility due to health risk.

PUYAT - ‘Staycations’ in GCQ areas may begin Oct. 1 – Puyat
DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat
(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“Target lang [kasi] ang daming nagbabago (It’s just a target date as there are lots of changes),” Puyat said in a Viber message.

Puyat clarified that the DOT has yet to finalize the guidelines on the operations of hotels and other accommodation establishments in GCQ areas as majority of these are still operating as quarantine facilities for returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs), as well as for asymptomatic patients.

Some also serve as temporary billeting areas for frontline workers such as government staff, healthcare workers, and employees in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

In an earlier interview with the Manila Bulletin, Christine Ibarreta, president of Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) Philippines, said hotels are now gearing up for this development, wherein some have already allotted rooms for the OFWs and ROFs market, and for the “staycation” market.

But Puyat rejected any move to operate as a mix of “staycation” and quarantine facility.

“They can apply as staycation hotels but hindi pwede mix,” Puyat said.

“They have to convert as a ‘staycation’ and sanitize everything dahil for leisure na ‘yon,” she added.

Puyat clarified that the target October 1 opening for “staycations” will still depend on the Department of Health’s guidelines on antigen testing.

Currently, the DOT is pushing for antigen tests as a requirement for traveling under the new normal. The process is relatively cheaper and faster than the initially proposed real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test.

The hotel sector, as part of the tourism industry, is among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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