Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has warned that she will cancel the certificate of authority to operate of hotels and accommodation establishments in Metro Manila violating the health and safety protocols set by the national government to contain the spread of the dreaded novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.
Puyat issued the warning after some tourism accredited hotels have not been accommodating properly some returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) on time, and worse, letting them mingle with the general public.
Puyat said a close relative of an ROF, whom she personally knew, tagged her some photos on social media showing some returning overseas Filipino guests at a five-star hotel in Pasay City “loitering” at the lobby without their masks on.
The incident happened on Sunday, the same day President Duterte decided to revert some parts of Mega Manila back to a stricter community quarantine level amid the plea from the country’s healthcare workers.
“They’re supposed to be placed under quarantine, right? But they were told to wait for nine hours at the lobby because the hotel is full,” the Tourism chief said in Filipino, who at the same time, could not hide her anger over the incident.
She also stressed that hotels should not overbook, especially that the country is facing the grim realities of the pandemic, where virus transmissions seem to come from elsewhere.
“They could have just declined accommodating the ROFs or better, they transferred them to other hotels [with available rooms]. And then, I saw pictures [of ROFs], loitering in the lobby with no masks on. Isn’t it automatic that no face mask, no entry? But they allowed it,” she added.
She said the guests arrived at around 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. but were told that the check-in time was still later in the afternoon.
Though, she did not provide further details about the hotel.
Similarly, a hotel in Malate, Manila also did not have the rooms ready for their ROF guests, thus, allowed them to just go out and eat.
“Of course, there is no food [available]. They let them out. So, the ROFs mingled with the general public and we have no idea if they tested positive [for COVID-19] because they just returned from other countries. That is why I am really mad,” she said.
Puyat sent copies of the photos to the Manila Bulletin as proof.
The DOT chief has sent letters to the two hotels, as well as to the heads of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP), Philippine Hotel Owners Association, and Hotel Sales and Marketing Association Inc., to remind them to adhere strictly to the health and safety protocols issued by the government.