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Tourism frontline staff now part of priority workers for vaccination

TOURISM Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat gets a body temperature check from a hotel front desk staff during an ocular visit in this Oct. 2020 photo. — DOT PHOTO RELEASE

FRONTLINERS in the tourism industry such as hotel reception staff are now part of the cluster of essential workers who are next in line as priority for coronavirus vaccination.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, who has been lobbying for the inoculation of the sectors’ workers, said 1,510 frontliners from accredited accommodations, mainly those being used as quarantine or isolation facilities, have been vaccinated as of April 30.

“I am  pleased to announce that the vaccination of those in the A4 Priority Group, which includes tourism frontline workers, has begun,” she said in a statement on Monday.

In a separate Viber message, Ms. Puyat said most of the initial inoculations were administered using vaccine allocation to local government units (LGUs) that have already covered their other priority groups.

“Some LGUs have started na since they’re done with A1 to A3,” she said.

The A1 to A3 groups cover medical workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities.

Apart from accommodation front desk staff, workers assigned at airports, airlines and other transportation services are also included in the A4 priority list.

Ms. Puyat said their vaccination “is a testimony of the government’s firm resolve to ensure that the Philippine tourism industry will continue to survive this pandemic and thrive after it.”

The Department of Tourism has been in coordination with industry groups like the Philippine Hotel Owners Association, the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association, and the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines for identifying those who will be included in the vaccination list.

“Tourism has always played a major part in uplifting the economy before the pandemic, and it is only by ensuring the good health and safety of our tourism workers through their inoculation can we be assured that they will be ready once the industry fully restarts,” she said.

The government is aiming to vaccinate those in the A1-A4 lists within the first half of the year, according to the national task force handling the coronavirus response. — Marifi S. Jara and Jenina P. Ibañez