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Gov’t lifts total ban on conferences, workshops

CONFERENCES, workshops and other similar activities are now allowed in areas under the general quarantine level, a move that will help boost the battered tourism sector.

“While the pandemic has taught organizers to embrace technology, some gatherings in a physical set-up can now proceed, with health and safety protocols in place. We are optimistic that the country’s MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences Exhibitions) sector shall start to thrive again,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement on Friday.

Under the eased policy approved by the national task force against the coronavirus, “workshops, trainings, seminars, congresses, conferences, board meetings, colloquia, conclaves, symposia, and consumer trade shows” can be held at a maximum 30% capacity of the venue.

Allowed venues under Resolution No. 87 are “restaurants, in general; restaurants attached to hotels; ballrooms and function halls within hotels; venues within hotel premises; and mall atria.”

Ms. Puyat noted that social events such as birthdays, weddings, Christmas and office parties, pageants, award events, gala receptions, product launch, political gatherings, cultural festivities, and sporting events “are not covered” by the new resolution.

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Task Force and Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said the Department of Tourism and the Department of Trade and Industry will issue joint guidelines on the conduct of these events.

The Management Association of the Philippines welcomed the government’s decision, citing its benefit to the economy.

“It is consistent with the government’s desire to return to normalcy. It will lend a helping hand to the hotel and accommodation industry, which is highly impacted by the pandemic,” the group said in a statement on Friday signed by its president, Francis E. Lim.

MONITORING

Meanwhile, the police is deploying more officers in Metro Manila to help ensure the enforcement of health protocols as the holidays draw near and more people are going out of their homes.

“We are focusing on areas of convergence such as markets, public markets, malls, churches, and ports, sea ports, and public transportation,” Police Deputy Chief of Staff Cesar R. Binag, speaking in Filipino, said in a briefing Friday.
Mr. Binag, who is also the Joint Task Force COVID Shield chief, said they are also in talks with the management of shopping malls to strengthen protocols.
Coronavirus cases in the capital region has been on a decline, but it remains one of the country’s epicenters of the outbreak. — Gillian M. Cortez

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