The term “new normal” has been on people’s lips these past couple of weeks. Some say we should strive to bring back the “old normal”, but government regulations drive home the point that, moving forward, it’s all about the New Normal. For travel-related establishments, particularly Accommodation Establishments (e.g., hotels, resorts, apartment hotels, tourist inns, motels, pension houses, private homes used for homestay, ecolodges, serviced apartments, condotels, bed and breakfast facilities, and other establishments operating primarily for accommodation purposes), the Department of Tourism (DOT) has issued the Memorandum Circular No. 2020-002, entitled the New Normal Health and Safety Guidelines for Accommodation Establishments. Here are the salient points of this DOT circular:
- 1. Guests must complete a Health Declaration Form upon check in. This form requires guests to disclose their current health condition and travel history for the past 14 days. The Accommodation Establishment’s staff must record and analyze guest lists for persons coming from countries that have reported confirmed cases of the current disease and, where proper and observing the rules on privacy, notify the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT and file a report with the DOT Regional Office.
- 2. Physical Distancing measures, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette must be observed at all times.
- 3. Body temperature checking, using a thermal scanner at entrances, shall be undertaken for all guests by qualified health or medical staff or trained personnel. Only guests cleared during screening shall be allowed to enter the perimeter to check-in. Those with fever and flu-like symptoms will not be allowed to enter the establishment and will be referred to the doctor on duty, to the nearest hospital, or to the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) in accordance with DOH prescribed protocol.
- 4. Guests shall be advised to disinfect their shoes using sanitizing mats provided at the entrances. The following medical kit and PPE shall be readily available at the reception counter or desk: (i) Germicidal disinfectant or wipes for surface cleaning; (ii) Face mask or face shield; (iii) Biohazard disposable waste bag; (iv) 70% solution alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizer; (v) Tissue paper, napkin, or paper towel; and (vi) Disposable gloves.
- 5. Front desk personnel attending to guests must wear face masks. Disposable gloves must be used when handling cash or documents, and/or materials that are passed from person to person. Contactless process at the front desk is highly encouraged.
- 6. Only single up to double room occupancy is allowed. Couples or family members who share the same household may be allowed in double or twin occupancy rooms. A distance of 1 to 2 meters between the beds is highly encouraged. Sanitation kit shall be provided for each guest which may include 70% solution alcohol or alcohol-based sanitizers, disinfectant sprays, face masks, disposable gloves, and rags.
- 7. Buffet and room service are things of the past. Self-service station set up for guests at the dining area is highly discouraged. Buffet services, self-service stations in dining areas, and room service are highly discouraged. In lieu of room service, grand-and-go station (where guests can pick-up their breakfast or ordered food) must be made available. Grab-and-go stations must be sanitized regularly every after use.
- 8. Hotel transport vehicles must comply with the Social Distancing and Passenger Limit Guidelines set by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to avoid possible contact. For cars / sedans, no passenger shall be seated beside the driver, and no more than three (3) passengers, including the driver, per car. For vans, only two (2) passengers per row are allowed and a waterproof transparent barrier between the driver and the passengers must be installed. For buses and coasters, a waterproof transparent barrier between the driver and the passengers must be installed and passengers are not allowed to stand while vehicle is moving.
For the rest of the requirements, see the full text of the New Normal Health and Safety Guidelines for Accommodation Establishments. See also the summary for owners/operators of hotels, resorts and other Accommodation Establishments in the Philippines.