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Surigao Norte, Siargao Island off-limits to tourists from NCR Plus

/ 05:04 AM March 25, 2021

SURIGAO PARADISE Local tourists enjoy the white sand beach of Kawhagan Island in Del Carmen, Surigao del Norte, just off Siargao Island, in this photo taken in December 2020. The provincial government has closed this paradise destination to travelers from Metro Manila and four Luzon provinces that recorded a spike in COVID-19 cases recently. —ERWIN MASCARIÑAS

SURIGAO CITY, Surigao del Norte, Philippines — Tourists from Metro Manila and its four nearby provinces who are planning to take a break on Siargao Island would have to postpone their trips indefinitely after the provincial government of Surigao del Norte shut its doors to travelers from these areas which have been placed on stricter quarantine for two weeks due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

Gov. Francisco Matugas said the closure order, which took effect on March 22, was meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections in the province brought about by the influx of leisure travelers.

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Matugas said he was worried about a local spike in cases as this could lead to another lockdown, “which would surely hurt our local economy again.”

With the order, only Surigao del Norte residents and authorized government employees, carrying the required health and travel documents, will be allowed to enter Surigao del Norte if they come from Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal and Laguna, which are under a quarantine “bubble.”

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Matugas asked airline companies to require their passengers bound for the airports in Surigao City or Siargao to observe this policy.

Beaches closed

Tourists are expected to flock to Siargao Island, especially during the Holy Week, from March 29 to April 4.

As part of health measures, even travelers from Surigao del Norte going to Siargao Island are required to present a negative result of, at least, an antigen test for COVID-19.

Due to restrictions, local officials are expecting locals to explore other resorts on the mainland, like in Surigao City.

The local government of Surigao City, however, has ordered all local beaches closed from March 27 to April 4, said city tourism officer Roselyn Armida Merlin.

She said the order issued by Mayor Ernesto Matugas was meant to stem the surge of vacationers during the Holy Week, noting that the city had become an alternative destination to Siargao Island as leisure travelers had to deal with reduced accommodation capacity there.

“We are really fearful about the possibility of virus transmission,” Merlin said.

She said resorts would be allowed to operate but their swimming pools and beaches would be off-limits to visitors.

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TAGS: coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, NCR Plus, NCR Plus tourists, Surigao tourism, travel restrictions
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