MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) is probing a hotel over a breach of COVID-19 protocols, after a traveler allegedly availed of “absentee quarantine.”
The DOT has since identified the hotel as Berjaya Makati Hotel in Makati City.
According to a viral post circulating on social media, a certain traveler from the United States paid the facility to avoid isolation.
In an interview with DZBB on Thursday, December 30, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat said the hotel initially denied that the returning Filipino skipped quarantine and claimed that she was there the entire time.
After Berjaya’s denial, Puyat said the DOT received signed affidavits and screenshots of social media posts showing that the traveler was indeed going around even if she was supposed to be isolated.
According to the tourism chief, the woman was seen in Poblacion, Makati City, a day after arriving in the Philippines. The department already has CCTV footage of the woman being in Poblacion.
“Ito, maraming signed affidavits kasi sila mismo nahawa ng COVID. And mismo ‘yung babae nagyayabang, may connection daw siya.… Nag-TikTok pa. Ang malas no’n, nag-positive siya on the fifth day and ‘yung mga nakasama niya, nag-positive din,” Puyat said.
(We received a number of signed affidavits because they themselves caught COVID-19. And the woman was proud to say that she has connections. She even posted on TikTok. The bad thing about it was that she tested positive on the fifth day and those who were with her also tested positive.)
Puyat added that the traveler initially denied that she skipped quarantine, then later admitted it to the department. The traveler is now in isolation after testing positive for the virus.
Puyat said the DOT is already in touch with the authorities, especially since the hotel “lied” to the department.
“The hotel in question is currently being investigated and has been served a notice to explain, directing the establishment to submit its response to the allegations within three days,” she said.
According to Puyat, it is the responsibility of other government agencies to file a complaint against the woman who violated quarantine protocols.
“Nobody is really above the law. Dapat talaga sumusunod. This is a health crisis. Dahil sa kapabayaan niya, nahawa niya mga kasama niya at ang mga kasama niya, nakahawa pa ng ibang tao,” she said.
(Nobody is really above the law. People should really follow the rules. This is a health crisis. Because she was irresponsible, she spread the virus to other people and those who she was exposed to also infected other people.)
The DOT has received other reports involving the “absentee quarantine” modus, but those who sent the leads refused to provide further details on the travelers and the hotels, said Puyat.
The tourism chief reminded hotels that failure to follow health and safety protocols “may lead to criminal penalties of fines and/or imprisonment, and administrative penalties such as suspension or revocation of accreditation.” – Rappler.com