MANILA – The tourism department has put on indefinite hold crowd-drawing mall sales nationwide supposed to kick off in March, citing public safety amid the outbreak of the contagious coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
"Given the alarming rise in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections all over the world during the past few days, the Department of Tourism (DOT) has postponed the nationwide mall sale portion of the 2020 Philippine Shopping Festival until further notice," the DOT said in a statement Saturday.
The nationwide mall sale is among the DOT's programs aimed to spur tourism in the country. It said it put the safety of citizens over potential visitor arrivals and revenues that such nationwide shopping promo might attract.
"As much as we want to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19, the safety of our citizens remains our priority. We advise the general public to maintain proper hygiene and follow the guidelines set by the Department of Health to contain the spread of the virus," said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
The DOT thanked mall establishments for their support on the decision to postpone the event for the safety of their customers.
It urged mall operators to follow precautionary measures the Department of Health had set, including temperature checks of mall goers at entry points and the provision of hand sanitizers inside mall premises.
The Philippines has confirmed 3 cases of COVID-19 in the country, all Chinese citizens who had come from Wuhan City in China, the epicenter of the outbreak. One of them died.
There are currently 30 patients under investigation for the virus in the Philippines.
Some 83,000 people have contracted the virus, mostly in China, with rapid increases of infection reported in South Korea and Italy.