It is safe to conduct festivals and public gatherings in the country, despite the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), the Department of Tourism (DOT) guaranteed on Friday.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat made the remarks after the Department of Health (DOH) earlier recommended the cancellation of big events and other mass gatherings amid the threats posed by the new coronavirus.

Romulo-Puyat said a joint memorandum circular by the DOT, DOH, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) would be released to encourage local governments to pursue events despite public fears over Covid-19.

“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,” she said. “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.”

Several local government units and other groups have decided to forgo activities with large crowds to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

Filipinos have expressed fear over a possible Covid-19 epidemic in the country after the government earlier confirmed three cases of the new coronavirus.

Three Chinese nationals from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, who traveled to the Philippines had tested positive for Covid-19. One died while the other two have already recovered.

Despite this, President Rodrigo Duterte encouraged his fellow countrymen to travel with him around the Philippines.

In a video message uploaded by Radio Television Malacañang on Friday morning, Duterte assured the public that it is still “safe” to visit the country’s beautiful places.

“To my fellow Filipinos, I encourage you to travel with me around the Philippines. I assure you that everything is safe in our country, be it an issue of health, be it an issue of law and order, and be it an issue of accessibility,” he said.


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