An association of hotels in the country proposed an adjustment in the guidelines for holding MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) and social events to help the sector thrive again in the “new normal” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The HSMA (Hotel Sales & Marketing Association) and its 150 member hotels believe that it is time to pivot to the new normal. With accountability and control as our guide, we are proposing an adjustment in the rules for meetings and events that is anchored on the ‘Mask, Hugas, and Iwas’ campaign of the government,” HSMA President Christine Urbanozo-lbarreta said in the group’s letter to the Department of Tourism (DOT).
According to Ibaretta, they are optimistic that the proposed guidelines will be approved and will pave the way to allow MICE and social celebrations such as weddings and birthday parties in all hotels.
The group proposed that hotels that intend to accommodate MICE and social events must be accredited first by the DOT to ensure that health protocols against coronavirus disease are implemented.
All event attendees will be mandated to use the Stay Safe PH app for contract tracing purposes before entering the hotel and will also be required to wear masks and face shield for the entire duration of the event.
For the capacity and attendees, the association president proposed that a 50-percent capacity must be maintained in all function rooms for both socials and MICE with an age limit of eight years old and above. However, attendees below the stated age limit must be accompanied by parents or a guardian.
While for quarantine hotels, Ibaretta said that MICE and social attendees must be totally separated from quarantine guests with separate entrances, meal areas, and other facilities required.
“Strictly no mixing of guests to avoid contamination or exposure. A sanitation seal for meeting rooms should confirm that no one has accessed the room,” Ibaretta noted.
For the food set-up, the association proposed that alcohol consumption must be implemented as per regulation of the respective local government units while taking out of the unconsumed food “will always not be allowed.”
No pre-pouring of beverages shall also be conducted during the event, while the use of flatware, glassware, and silver cutleries must be sanitized before set-up.
Program entertainment may also be allowed according to the group but all performers must be wearing masks and face shields and adhering to social distancing guidelines of one meter apart.
The government’s pandemic task force allowed in December last year MICE events in restaurants, hotel function halls, mall atria, and venues within hotel premises, which are not used as quarantine facilities.
These events only include workshops, training, seminars, congresses, conferences, conventions, board meetings, colloquia, conclaves, symposia, and consumer trade shows.
However, venue capacity was capped at 30 percent, and other events such as political gatherings, cultural festivities, sporting events, product launches, and social events like birthdays, weddings, Christmas and office parties, pageants, award events, and gala receptions shows are still not allowed.
The country’s tourism sector, including those in the hotel industry, has been among the hardest-hit by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which forced other establishments to suspend their operations.