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Hotel, airport personnel among the first to receive vaccine vs Covid

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TOURISM frontliners will be among the first to receive the Covid-19 vaccine under government’s priority list for its vaccination program.

As stated in the Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) for Covid-19 Vaccines Resolution No. 1 approved and released on Friday, tourism frontliners fall within Priority Group A4, which are “Frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force for Managing Emerging Infectious Diseases]  as essential during ECQ (enhanced community quarantine).” These include hotel staff manning the front office, their health and maintenance personnel, airport personnel, among others.

In a news statement, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said, “It is indeed critical for our frontliners, especially those who continue to man our ports of entry, and those who serve at accommodation establishments that have been repurposed as quarantine facilities to be vaccinated.”

She underscored, “These personnel have been there at the onset of the pandemic — had risked life and limb during the repatriation efforts and up to now, remain at risk with the constant exposure with incoming travelers and guests from all parts of the world.”  

Majority of Department of Tourism (DOT)-accredited hotels in the National Capital Region have been serving as quarantine facilities for returning overseas Filipino workers, returning Filipinos, and expatriates who wait for the release of their Covid-19 test results. Pre-Covid, the tourism industry employed 5.7 million workers.  

Others in the priority list of the vaccination program are: Frontline health workers, medical professionals,  and non-professionals like students, nursing aides, janitors, barangay health workers, etc. (A1); Senior citizens 60 years old and above (A2); Persons with co-morbidities not otherwise included in the preceding categories (A3); Indigent population not otherwise included in the preceding categories (A5); Teachers and Social Workers (B1); Other government workers (B2); Other essential workers (B3); Socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk other than senior citizens and indigenous people (B4); OFWs (B5);  Other Remaining Workforce (B6); and the rest of the population not included in the previous groups (C).

“We also look forward to the inclusion of tourism industry workforce at recently opened destinations, who operate facilities and serve guests directly, as part of the priority groups for vaccination.  Our sector’s human capital is essential to the country’s socio-economic recovery,” the DOT chief added. 

Baguio tourism continues under GCQ

Meanwhile, the IATF granted on Thursday, the request of Baguio City to remain open for leisure tourism despite reverting to General Community Quarantine status due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the Cordillera Autonomous Region.

“Given Baguio City’s visitor information, registration and contract tracing system and the assurance to undertake stricter measures to make it work, we objectively endorsed the request to the IATF for guidance,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat explained. 

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong had asked Romulo-Puyat for help in keeping the city open for tourism as its hotels had already received numerous bookings this month.

It would be recalled that Magalong had to resign his post as “contact-tracing czar,” after having participated in the birthday party of event organizer Tim Yap at The Manor in Camp John Hay, which showed his wife and other guests without masks and not practicing social distancing.

DOT-CAR has yet to render any decision on The Manor, after having asked the establishment to explain what happened during the controversial party that raised the hackles of netizens and Baguio residents. (See, “Baguio’s Magalong comes to event manager Tim Yap’s defense,” in the BusinessMirror, Jan. 28, 2021.)

The continued operation of Baguio City’s hotel sector under GCQ was contained in IATF Resolution No. 98 dated Feb. 4, 2021, which also approved the entry of foreigners with visas issued March 20, 2020 into the Philippines as long the visas have not yet expired.

Also approved for entry were foreigners with Special Resident and Retirees Visas, and Section 9(A) visas, “provided they present an entry exemption document to the Bureau of Immigration upon arrival.”

A Section 9(A) visa is a temporary visitor’s visa issued to foreigners who come to the Philippines for a short period, whether for tourism, business or medical purposes.

In addition, the DOT has been directed to come up with guidelines for the accommodation of guests for leisure and business purposes in areas under different levels of community quarantine. 

Image credits: Nonie Reyes
Read full article on BusinessMirror

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