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DOT insists public events safe amid COVID-19 outbreak

In this May 2018 file photo, newly appointed Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat answers questions from the media during a press conference at the Department of Tourism office in Makati City.

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism on Friday said that it is safe to hold public gatherings and festivals in the Philippines despite the outbreak of coronavirus 2019 or COVID-19.

Last week, the Department of Health issued an advisory asking the public to avoid public events in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“With the ongoing threat of the spread of [COVID-19], the Department of Health strongly urges the public to avoid attending, participating in, and organizing events that draw a huge number of attendees. The DOH likewise recommends the cancelation of such planned big events or mass gatherings until further advice,” read the February 7 advisory.

The Health department also recommended that the public avoid crowded places and practice self-protection measures.

RELATED:DOH recommends calling off big events, mass gatherings amid nCoV threat

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said her department and the Department of the Interior and Local Government will release a joint memorandum circular encouraging local governments to conduct events in response to public fears over the virus.

“We also agreed among the DOH and the DILG regarding the fiestas, events, celebrations. We agreed we’ll be implementing a joint circular among the three agencies that it is all right to conduct such activity as long as precautionary measures are implemented,” Romulo-Puyat said in a Philippine News Agency report.

“And we want to assure you that all our stakeholders in the tourism industry have already implemented all these precautionary measures even before the temporary ban. So it’s safe.”

The Tourism department also welcomed the country’s lifting of the controversial travel ban on Taiwan.

RELATED:Taiwan already included in temporary travel ban — DOH

“The lifting of the travel ban on Taiwan is highly assuring and we hope that the [COVID-19] crisis would soon be resolved, worldwide. Ultimately, the recovery of all affected countries is a universal prayer, especially that tourism is an inclusive and sustainable business for and of the people,” the Tourism secretary said.

RELATED:Travel ban on Taiwan over COVID-19 lifted

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