In Cebu, ignoring health rules means jail, fine for tourists
CEBU CITY—Those planning to visit attractions in Cebu province must follow safety protocols against the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or risk paying a P5,000 fine and spending a year in prison, the provincial government has warned.
An ordinance, which was approved by the provincial board on Monday, imposes the punishment against those who would disregard guidelines set by local and health officials as Cebu opened its tourism destinations initially to residents of the island province.
“We need this ordinance because we have tourism stakeholders who are asking why some of them are implementing the province’s protocols while others are not,” said Board Member Andrei Duterte, the law’s main sponsor.
Local government officials and operators and employees of tourism establishments could also face sanctions if they violate the ordinance.
The law requires tour organizers and owners of tourism-related industries to acquire equipment to disinfect areas for their clients. These businesses must strictly adhere to the provincewide curfew from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m.
In an earlier interview, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said the strict measures were meant to help hotels, resorts and restaurants and their employees earn even during the COVID-19 crisis.
Those who want to visit tourist spots in the province should register through an online portal managed by the Cebu Provincial Tourism Task Force. Payments are made through money transfer, e-wallet service and other cashless payment options.
Garcia said the procedures were meant to limit the number of visitors, determine their target destination in advance, and enforce quick and efficient contact tracing in case it is needed.
“This time around, we are not going for quantity but quality. We should not open our tourism industry abruptly. The right way to do it is gradually. We have to be able to manage this very, very carefully,” she said.
Activities that will be allowed to resume include whale shark watching, canyoneering, island hopping, snorkeling, diving, beach activities, sightseeing, zipline adventure, ATV riding, parasailing, hiking, trekking, mountaineering, spelunking or caving, and visiting cultural heritage sites and museums.
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