Berjaya Hotel says closure 'without legal basis'
MANILA— The local government of Makati on Thursday ordered the closure of Berjaya Hotel after supposedly allowing a Filipina who had returned from abroad to skip quarantine and attend social gatherings.
This comes after the Department of Tourism (DOT) on Wednesday suspended the accreditation of the 3-star hotel for multi-use over Gwyneth Chua's supposed quarantine breach.
The hotel had admitted that Chua left its premises 15 minutes after checking in, the agency earlier said.
The Makati City Business Permits and Licensing Office (BPLO) ordered the temporary closure of the hotel after the DOT revoked its permit as a multi-use facility, City Hall said in a statement.
It pointed out that the hotel cannot operate because only DOT-accredited facilities are allowed to do so based on the IATF's guidelines.
The hotel was also fined P13,300 for violating health protocols.
In a statement following its closure order, the hotel said the city government's action was "without legal basis."
Berjaya said the tourism department's order is not yet final because it is still subject to appeal within 15 days and "the suspension is not in effect."
"On the operations level, if we close down the hotel immediately, where do we send our present quarantine guests? We have 18 guests who have tested positive and who have yet to be pulled out by the Bureau of Quarantine, and 80 who are in the middle of their quarantine," it said.
It said around 20 quarantine guests with advance payments come in every week.
"The inconvenience to the public is incalculable, unnecessary and preventable," Berjaya said.
"To close down a quarantine hotel for no legal reason is to close down a hospital just when it is helping to win the war. There is no benefit to be gained by such regulatory posturing when national interest and public health are on the line," the hotel added.
Berjaya Hotel said that "no law" penalizes a facility for their failure to report a person who cuts quarantine.
It also called for due process and a chance to explain before any penalty would be handed down.
"We have not been given our day in court by the Makati City Hall," according to the statement.
Chua, who was supposedly in mandatory isolation at the hotel after arriving from the United States, jumped quarantine and later tested positive for COVID-19. She attended parties at the Poblacion district, and some of her close contacts also caught the virus, according to reports.
The interior department last week said Chua has infected at least 15 people after attending the events.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año last week said the hotel could be liable for their supposed failure to supervise the person and following quarantine protocols, he added.
The Philippines has been recording a spike in new COVID-19 infections most likely driven by the more transmissible omicron variant.
On Wednesday, the health department confirmed over 10,700 fresh cases, the highest in nearly 3 months.
— With a report from Jeck Batallones, ABS-CBN News