Philippines allows travel-related businesses to reopen

Businesses related to travel and tours are now allowed to open in the Philippines to complement non-essential travels that have been permitted by the government to help revive the ailing economy.

This was announced by Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez through a memorandum circular signed on October 14 and was released only on Friday.

The memorandum categorized travel and tourism-related firms from category 4 to category 3.

Based on the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID), businesses and industries under category 4 are now allowed to operate in areas under the enhanced community quarantine and the more relaxed general community quarantine.

Those under category 3 were allowed to reopen at 50 percent operational capacity and employ a skeletal workforce.

Meanwhile, those in areas under the modified general community quarantine are allowed to operate at a full capacity.

Subject to minimum public health and safety standards and protocols, Lopez said travel agencies, tour operators, reservation services, and related services can reopen at half their capacity in areas under GCQ.

Areas that are currently under GCQ include Metro Manila, Batangas; Tacloban City in Leyte; Bacolod City in Negros Occidental; Iligan City in Lanao del Norte; and Iloilo City in Iloilo.

All other provinces and cities are under MGCQ except for Lanao del Sur and its capital Marawi City, which are under modified enhanced community quarantine.

“The DTI (Department of Trade and Industry), through the Fair-Trade Enforcement Bureau and regional or provincial offices, shall monitor compliance with this circular through a post-audit mechanism,” Lopez said.

Inspections by the Departments of Tourism (DoT), of Labor and Employment (DoLE), and of Health (DoH) may also be conducted at any time with the help of the local government units.

DoT welcomes relaxed guidelines

On Friday, the DoT said it welcomed the IATF-EID’s amended guidelines on relaxing restrictions on people traveling between GCQ and MGCQ areas.

It said it expected the tourism sector to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The DoT cited IATF Resolution 79 which says that the interzonal movement of non-authorized persons outside residences between areas under GCQ and MGCQ “shall be permitted, subject to the reasonable regulations imposed by the local government unit (LGU) concerned, if any, and which should be submitted to the Department of the Interior and Local Government, or in the case of Boracay Island, subject to those imposed by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force.”

“These new policies approved by the IATF support the department’s programs aimed at rebuilding the tourism industry to bring back lost jobs and livelihoods and stir local economies,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in the statement.