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Negros Occidental execs wary of airport, ports reopening

/ 04:58 PM May 22, 2020

BACOLOD CITY—The provincial government of Negros Occidental has listed a set of protocols for entry into the province through its ports and airports just in case the national government allowed this.

In a letter to air and sea travel agencies, Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said the national government should support efforts of the province to combat COVID-19 pandemic.

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The letter was addressed to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Ports Authority and Philippine Coast Guard on Friday (May 22).

Among the protocols set by the governor for opening up airports and ports in the province were:

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  • Limit the number of plane or ship passengers to capacity of quarantine facilities in the province.
  • Arriving passengers must stay in quarantine facilities until results of tests on them show them negative for coronavirus
  • Passengers would be held for up to two days as the molecular laboratory at Teresita Locsin Jalandoni Provincial Hospital is now fully operational
  • Tickets for airlines, ships, ro-ro vessels and fastcraft would be sold only to persons with certificates of acceptance from the provincial government
  • Priority in access to the province are Negrense residents and workers in essential businesses
  • Arriving passengers would be required to fill out information detailing their travel history and health records

Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia said he was seeking clarification from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on reopening the city’s airports and ports after May 31 when the general community quarantine (GCQ) prevailing in the city and province ends.

While on GCQ, commercial sea and air travel from and into the city and the province are suspended except for occasional boat trips and plane flights for cargo shipments and repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and stranded residents.

“Our concern is: What happens after May 31?” Leonardia said.

He said he wanted to know if inter-island travel for the province and city and other places would resume.

He also wanted to know if the Bacolod-Silay Airport would reopen for commercial flights from Manila, Clark, Cebu and Mindanao “regardless of the risk status and quarantine categories of these other places.”

He said Bacolod City and Negros Occidental have been implementing strict health protocols for people arriving by sea or air, and that these have worked well in preventing transmission of SARS Cov2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“However, we fear that these protocols will be imperilled by the sudden influx of arrivals into our city and province,” said the mayor.

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He said “if done without regard to our capacity to accommodate” arriving passengers in quarantine facilities, resuming air and sea travel to and out of the province could render the health protocols futile.

“May we beg that commercial sea and air travel not be resumed in our areas, as yet, after May 31, 2020, regardless of the quarantine category by then of the city and or the province,” he added.

In case his request is not granted, Leonardia offered a compromise: inbound trips by air and sea should continue to be pre-arranged with the city and the province.

Edited by TSB

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