ESSENTIAL meetings and social events will now be allowed in hotels, restaurants and other accredited meetings venues even in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ).
The amended guidelines are contained in the joint memorandum circular no. 2021-001 issued by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on February 20, 2021, signed by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat and Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.
The joint memo, a copy of which was obtained by the BusinessMirror, does not cover quarantine hotels and facilities, which will be issued separate guidelines by the DOT and the Department of Health (DOH). Sources said the guidelines for events in quarantine hotels and facilities will likely be “stricter;” Romulo Puyat has always cited health experts who’ve said quarantine and non-quarantine guests should never mix.
As per the new joint memo, “essential meetings and events shall refer to a congregation of at least two people, with or without external participants, vital to the sustenance of the operations and business interests of the organization and not for recreational or leisure purposes, such as workshops, trainings, seminars, congresses, conferences, conventions, board meetings, colloquia, conclaves, symposia, company/government recognitions, and press conferences.”
Also permitted are: debut and birthday parties; wedding ceremonies and receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers.
These events can only be held in restaurants, in general; restaurants within DOT-accredited accommodation establishments; ballrooms, function halls, and other venues within DOT-accredited accommodation establishments; mall atria; and DOT-accredited standalone venues.
In a Viber message, Hotel Sales and Marketing Association president Christine Ann U. Ibarreta said, “We are happy with the DOT and DTI support to open more market segments for the hotels. We will do our part in ensuring safety and protection protocols, as well as creating promotions that are attractive and helpful to our customers.”
For essential meetings, participants can occupy up to 50 percent of the venue’s capacity up to eight hours “provided that disinfection protocols shall be implemented during breaks.” For social events, maximum venue capacity is only 30 percent, and can run up to three hours.
“Only individuals with ages 15 years old and above, except those with immunodeficiency, comorbidities, or are pregnant, shall be permitted to participate in essential meetings and social events,” unless revised by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) or local government units. Also, attendees to these events shall only be from GCQ and modified GCQ areas.
The guidelines allow LGUs, in which these venues are located, to impose their own stricter protocols and rules, but respecting minimum IATF and DOH-health and safety standards.
A mandatory requirement is for event participants, employees of venues, and service providers to wear face shields and face masks. Other rules include body temperature checks, registration to contact-tracing apps prior to entry to the venue, one-way entrance and exit for guest flow, and designation of an isolation area for persons who feel unwell while at the event, among others.
Strictly prohibited are buffet setup and condiment stations, loitering around public areas of the venue, “group activities or presentations that involve close contact such as dancing and sports,” taking out of unconsumed food, live entertainment, to name a few.