Hotel and restaurant owners and operators gave different reactions to the possible reimposition of the face mask mandate in the Philippines amid continuing threats of Covid-19.
“I think the [World Health Organization] WHO has come up with a downgrading or almost elimination of the Covid-19—nevertheless we can still see Covid-19 going around maybe just as an endemic rather than a pandemic,” Eugene T. Yap, Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines (HRAP) president said during a press briefing of the Philippine Furniture Furnishings Market on Monday.
Yap added that the mask is still an important part especially in food-serving areas. However, he said “many areas, if it is outdoor, you will encounter it less, but mostly in food service areas, that will still be very prevalent and very required.”
“So we hope that there will be not much mask requirement but I think we now leave it to the establishment for their own use,” the HRAP president noted.
Meanwhile, Philippine Hotel Owners Association, Inc. (PHOA) Executive Director Benito C. Bengzon Jr. said the association simply follows the guidelines issued by the government.
“But I think what we want to emphasize is that regardless of the guidelines issued by the government, the hotels, restaurants and other tourism-oriented establishments have always maintained very strict guidelines to make sure that we are able to provide a good experience for our guests,” Bengzon said.
“So the minimum public health standards have always been in place and we will abide by the guidelines provided by the government,” he added.
For Philippine Retailers Association (PRA), Chairman Paul A. Santos said they allow their member retailers to decide whether or not to enforce mandatory masking for their employees.
“So, while the government may want to recommend that everybody can relax masking, it’s still up to the individual retailer,” Santos said during the same press conference.
“We can impose that on our employees because these are workplace safety rules. We can certainly do that. We cannot impose similar standards on our customers,” he added.
In a statement issued by Go Negosyo last May 4, Go Negosyo founder Jose Maria A. Concepcion III opposed the reimposing of mask mandates in the country after the reported rise in Covid-19 positivity rate.
“People may not die from Covid-19 but they can die from hunger,” Concepcion said in a televised interview last May 3.
The Go Negosyo founder noted the economy is what the country needs to focus on. Further, he noted, “We have to get tourism back on its feet, and we want to see mobility. How do you expect our [gross domestic product] GDP to grow unless consumer spending happens?.”
Concepcion said the economy and job creation are now the priority.