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DOT rolls out app to help restaurants reopen safely

(Bloomberg file photo)

MORE restaurants are seeking accreditation from the Department of Tourism (DOT) as the government enforces health and safety protocols for their reopening.

In a virtual press briefing on Tuesday, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said, “While accreditation is voluntary, we find that a lot of the restaurants want to be accredited because of the government regulations…[the accreditation] is like a ‘Seal of Good Housekeeping’ that it also restores consumers’ confidence [in the establishment].”

The DOT said there were 575 accredited restaurants across the country, 78 of which are in the National Capital Region as of December 31, 2019. Under Republic Act 9353 (Tourism Act of 2009), restaurants are considered secondary tourism enterprises and as such, may get DOT-accreditation on a voluntarily basis. Only primary tourism enterprises like hotels, travel agencies, tour guides and the like are required by law to secure DOT accreditation before they are given business permits by local government units.

This developed as the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved on Monday a digital application that can help restaurants and other dining establishments to safely reopen and accept guests. Under the modified general community quarantine, restaurants may reopen 30 percent for dine-in guests, then 100 percent once all quarantine restrictions are lifted under  the new normal status.

At the same virtual presser, Winston Damarillo, founder of Devcon Philippines and CEO of Talino Venture Labs, explained his SafePass app will help restaurants plan their space capacity for guests and employees, manage their guests reservation system, enforce protocols that will allow guests and staff to enter the establishment and monitor their adherence to health and safety regulations, as well as manage incidents of suspected Covid-19 cases and allow contract tracing.

“We wanted to complement the regulations and guidelines and protocols representing the tourism industry, and we wanted to enable them [the restaurants] with the capability to implement [said protocols] as safely as possible and as conveniently as possible,” said Damarillo.

The app will allow the diners to make their reservation, and will be asked to disclose their health condition via questionnaire, after which, they will receive a unique QR code. At the restaurant entrance, the security guard can check the guest’s QR code  to validate that the latter is allowed to enter the establishment, that it has enough space at that particular time slot, and that the guest has attested to his health status.

The basic SafePass platform will be made available for free to DOT-accredited restaurants, he said.

Another digital solution Talino will give these restaurants for free is Dine In, which “allows restaurants to present their menu digitally. So no more paper menu. This is very similar to the Japanese model of ordering your ramen right before you get in. You’re able to check all the menus from your table and then pick the food you want to eat.”

The app also encourages cashless payment: “You can order from your table. [The diner] will put his credit card in the frame. And then the order can be facilitated.” Damarillo added that the same app can be used for deliveries and pick-ups.

“These are our technologies that will assist in the implementation of the [health and safety guidelines] that DOT and DTI have presented to the IATF. And with the blessing of the IATF, this is now being made available to our restaurants that are in the process of reopening, as soon as they’re allowed to so.”

Romulo Puyat, meanwhile, assured restaurant owners that they are not forced to use SafePass. “As soon as they are accredited, they will be given the option to get this the basic SafePass for free.”

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