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Baguio folk wary over opening doors to visitors by September

/ 04:16 AM August 12, 2020

CULTURE GUIDE In this photo taken during the celebration of Ibaloy Day in 2019, a tour guide briefs a group of foreign tourists about the culture of the Ibaloy people, the original settlers of Baguio City. —EV ESPIRITU

BAGUIO CITY—The tentative reopening of this city to tourists by September drew opposition from some residents here who expressed concerns over rising new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections attributed to visitors and migrants, local officials said on Tuesday.

Aloysius Mapalo, city tourism officer, said his office had collated online reactions to the plan, which would require stricter health protocols for tourists.

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Under the new rules, tourists will have to undergo exhaustive medical tests and heavy surveillance via a digital platform as they tour selected areas of the city.

Mapalo said many residents expressed fears that tourists would expose them to the virus. He said the comments “provided us with pertinent insights” as to how reviving tourism this early would be absorbed by the community.

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Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the August progression of COVID-19 transmissions in Baguio and in parts of Luzon would determine if the city would allow tourists on or after Sept. 1, Baguio Day.

“When I say September, it could be the last day. It depends on the health situation in Baguio, and in the National Capital Region (Metro Manila), Region 3 (Central Luzon) and Region 4-A (Calabarzon), and now cases in Region 1 (Ilocos region) are also rising,” the mayor said.

162 cases since March

As of Monday, hospitals in the city had been treating 58 patients afflicted with COVID-19. Since March, 162 patients here had been stricken with the disease.

The increase in recorded infections was due to the heightened capacities of local governments to test and to “contact-trace” people who may have been exposed to a COVID-19 patient, Magalong said.

According to Mapalo, the September opening was a projection made in a tourism recovery plan outlined in April.

The Baguio tourism industry suffered a P1.4-billion loss in projected revenues when the city government canceled tourist-drawing activities like the flower festival in February and the succeeding summer programs, as a precaution against COVID-19.

“Close to 95 accommodation establishments have been certified as prepared to take in guests after setting up the appropriate health protocols. But the industry is studying whether people would indeed come up if the city borders are opened to domestic tourists,” Mapalo said. INQ

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TAGS: Baguio quarantine, Baguio tourists, coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19
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