Convention centres and other standalone venues in Metro Manila and areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) – the second weakest level of lockdown in the Philippines – can now reopen.
This is a large improvement from several months ago when only ballrooms, function rooms and venues within hotels, restaurants, and mall atriums in GCQ areas were allowed to reopen for essential meetings and events.
For essential meetings, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has indicated that venues are allowed a maximum capacity of 50 per cent and a duration of up to eight hours.
For social events like weddings, birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal and baby showers, venues should have 30 per cent maximum capacity and up to three hours in duration. The maximum capacity computation for venues includes the venue operator and employees, organisers and suppliers.
“Hotels or venues that are concurrently used as quarantine facilities may only accept bookings for essential meetings and social events under relevant guidelines to be separately issued by the Department of Tourism (DoT) and Department of Health,” tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said in a letter to the Tourism Congress of the Philippines’ president Jojo Clemente.
Attendees should at least be 15 years old and from areas placed under GCQ and modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), which is the lowest quarantine level.
Only those aged 15 years old and above from areas placed under GCQ and MGCQ are allowed to attend. Those from areas under the stricter form of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), and modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) are not allowed to attend.
Rules have also been laid out on hygiene and social distancing including the set up of meal tables, and conference and breakout rooms. Contactless registration and payment are preferred, hybrid events are encouraged, but live entertainment and buffets are strictly prohibited. There will also be separate loading and unloading bays for suppliers and a one-way entrance and exit for guest flow.
Orly Ballesteros, board member of PACEOS (Philippine Association of Convention/Exhibition Organizers and Suppliers), said the gradual easing of rules is good news.
“It’s a move in the right direction in reviving tourism and business in the country,” he said, noting that the MICE sector lost 21 billion pesos (US$433 million) last year.
Non-essential events like corporate celebrations, sports events, cultural and music festivals, concerts, and beauty pageants, remain prohibited.