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The Department of Tourism (DOT) has released Memorandum Circular No 2020-004 or the “New Normal Health and Safety Guidelines for DOT–Accredited Restaurants” that will cover the areas of Management; Configuration and Set–up; Employees; Customers; Service and other Procedure; Delivery; and Sanitation, Disinfection, Safety Measure, and others.

“The DOT remains committed to its “slow but sure” approach in reopening the tourism industry amidst our current public health concern. To make this happen, we expect strict compliance from our partners of the protocols. The only way we can jumpstart tourism is to regain the confidence of our visitors,” said Secretary Bernadette Romulo–Puyat.

DOT–accredited restaurants must follow new protocols such as requiring diners to fill out Health Declaration Forms (HDF), monitoring the body temperature of all employees, and providing their staff with personal food safety apparel and training, and annual check–ups. Maximum customer capacity should also be reduced to 50% of the restaurant’s seating or venue capacity.

The guidelines also contain a comprehensive list of food safety and conduct standards, and disinfection and sanitation protocols for different areas, furniture, wares, and surfaces within the restaurant, which employees are expected to follow.

Restaurant owners are encouraged to install an alarm system that will remind employees to practice proper handwashing every 20 minutes, before and after meals, before wearing gloves, touching food or food-contact surfaces, and other specific actions. In the absence of soap and water, 70% solution alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizers must be provided.

On the other hand, customers must also wear masks, accomplish HDFs, undergo temperature checks, and practice proper handwashing and physical distancing upon entry to or when inside the restaurant premises. They will be required to provide their names and contact details in a contract tracing log–sheet supplied by the establishment.

Other salient features of the guidelines include standards on in-house and delivery services of restaurants such as the establishment of pick–up or take–away zones for customers, and overall improvements to the establishment’s table and seating arrangement, customer queueing, order–taking, and payment systems.

Tourism Chief Puyat urged restaurants to optimize technology in shifting to contactless transactions- when taking orders, or receiving payments from customers.

Meanwhile, the operation of buffets and salad bars will remain prohibited. At the same time, in-house play areas, libraries, karaoke machines, and ancillary leisure facilities, and similar amenities will temporarily be suspended.

The guidelines were issued after the adoption by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) of the joint recommendations of the DOT and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on health and safety protocols for dine-in operations of restaurants.

Please click here for the full text of the Memorandum Circular No 2020-004 (https://tinyurl.com/ya5ebkhj).

Published:March 10, 2021

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