The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Saturday announced the postponement of the planned month-long nationwide mall sale in March, as the department underscored the need to prioritize the safety of the general public amid the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The DOT said "the nationwide mall sale portion" of the 2020 Philippine Shopping Festival has been postponed "until further notice."
The Tourism department cited the "alarming rise in corona virus disease (COVID-19) infections all over the world during the past few days."
"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," Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the global spread and impact risk aleart of the COVID-19 to "very high" from "high."
In China, the National Health Commission also tallied 427 new cases, an increase from the previous day, bringing the total of number of infections to 79,251. The death toll also reached 2,835.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that outside China, there are now 4,351 cases in 49 countries, and 67 deaths.
With the rising COVID-19 cases and deaths, the DOT said it maintains its stance to prioritize the safety of its citizens more than visitor arrivals and revenue.
"The DOT has coordinated with the mall establishments and is thankful for their support on the decision to postpone the nationwide sale to a later date for the safety of their customers," it said.
"The malls are still free to continue its day to day operations. The DOT also recommends that malls follow the precautionary measures set by the Department of Health (DOH) such as checking the temperatures of mall-goers before allowing them to enter and the provision of more hand sanitizers in their premises," it added.
In December last year, the DOT announced that major Philippine shopping malls will hold a month-long nationwide sale in March 2020.
"For the first time, lahat ng malls magsasama-sama: SM, Ayala Malls, MegaWorld, VistaLand, Robinsons, SSI, Shangri-La, Powerplant Malls, lahat magsasama, lahat magkaka-one month sale [sa] March," Tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said earlier. —Ted Cordero/KG, GMA News