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Alba Iulia
Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Coronavirus pandemic – affecting Filipino food, travel business


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Jason Cordi
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Editor-in-Chief, The Philippine Times

The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has hit some Filipino businesses significantly in Melbourne since January, particularly GJ’s Grill.

Renowned for its Bacolod style Chicken Inasal and Lechon, the popular restaurant has reported a decrease in sales of over 80% at their branch located at The District Docklands.

GJ’s Grill, along with other Asian food outlets at the 8 Street Asian Food Hall, has struggled to maintain its business since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. Asian locals and international tourists are usually known to be a large contributor to the foot traffic in the area.

8 Street Asian Food Hall has struggled with business since January

All restaurants are monitored and have been checked and declared compliant by the Melbourne City Council. All food businesses in Victoria are required to comply with the Food Act 1984 to ensure the food they serve is safe, with checks undertaken regularly by environmental health officers.

Owners Sheila and Lyn have informed The Philippine Times that there is nothing for the public to be concerned about and they would be happy to see ongoing support from the Filipino community.

Travel & Tourism

Tourism operators across Australia, which include Filipino-owned travel agencies have been reported to experience several cancellations and seen a reduced number of bookings. Subsequently, a large number of sales have been on offer to all destinations, including the Philippines.

Travel bans that have been imposed on China and South Korea have led to bare beaches in Boracay throughout the month of February and early March.

White Beach, Boracay Island. Taken 17 February. Photo by Jerson Trinidad

An Australian from Melbourne named Rory Lovelock who was in Boracay recently, reported to The Age that he thought it was ‘cool’ to have a whole plane, ferry and beach to himself.

“It’s like going on holiday here 10 or 20 years ago,” Lovelock said.

See: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/coronavirus-empty-bare-planes-ferries-beaches-make-for-a-simple-philippine-getaway-20200226-p544oh.html

Tourists who visited the Philippines in February noticed the precautions being undertaken by Filipinos in Manila through thermal scanners and the masks being worn by the majority of the population, contributed to a lower number of people infected with the virus in comparison to other countries.

Duterte on 12 March 2020 made an announcement with a further travel ban to and from Manila commencing 15 March, 2020.

First Filipino-Australian case

A Filipina in her 60s who travelled from Manila to Australia tested positive to COVID-19 on 5 March, after arriving in Sydney on 3 March. Local transmission was also only discovered in the Philippines on 5 March, and it was unknown as to where the woman contracted the virus.

On 7 March, Cebu Pacific informed The Philippine Times that the airline had already disinfected the aircraft used, as well as placed the cabin crew on the said flight on preventative quarantine. Passengers on the flight have since been given the advice to seek medical attention if they were exhibiting symptoms.

On 10 March 2020, Cebu Pacific has released a video showing their preventative measures.

The Filipina attended a reunion in her hometown in Pangasinan, of which all 100+ attendees were asked to present themselves for testing.

Aged care facilities in Australia are on high alert as the elderly are said to be most vulnerable to the virus. Thousands of Filipinos work across aged care facilities across the Australia.

The State Government initiated a pandemic plan in preparation for a significant outbreak. We must know that the decisions made by our leaders and the health department, will be to protect everyone’s health and safety. 

We must also try to not to panic. What might help is that looking at how many people have recovered after contracting the virus. As of 11 March, 64,465 people had already fully recovered, which is more than half of those that had contracted the virus.

Be calm

Let’s be calm, do the right thing and take the suggested precautions. The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services provides ten clear ways to reduce the risk of infection:

  • Wash hands often with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds. Dry with a paper towel or hand dryer.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
  • Isolate yourself at home if you feel sick. If you take medication, ensure you have adequate supplies.
  • Phone your GP first if you need medical attention. They will tell you what to do.
  • Continue healthy habits: exercise, drink water, get plenty of sleep, and now is the time to quit smoking. 
  • Don’t wear a face mask if you are well.
  • Buy an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with over 60 per cent alcohol.
  • Get the flu shot (available April).
  • Shaking hands is optional!

For further information and updates, visit https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

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