Subic resumes leisure activities as restrictions eased
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines — Leisure travelers from Metro Manila and its four neighboring provinces, collectively called National Capital Region (NCR) Plus, have been allowed to visit attractions inside this free port in Zambales as restrictions for tourism had been eased, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said on Tuesday.
According to Ramon Agregado, SBMA senior deputy administrator, a resolution of the national Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) allows point-to-point travel from Metro Manila and the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan to areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) without age restrictions. MGCQ is the least restrictive quarantine classification in the country.
“It’s a significant step forward from when visitors from NCR Plus can enter Subic only for business purposes and when we required proof of business appointments,” Agregado said in a statement.
He said the agency would continue to strictly implement health and safety protocols despite the more relaxed border controls.
“We will conduct a 100-percent inspection of travel requirements at Subic gates, and we will continue to strictly enforce rules on minimum health measures and physical distancing in all areas in the free port,” Agregado said.
The new IATF ruling requires those under 18 years old and over 65 years old to present a negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result upon entry at the free port.
But Agregado said the previous requirement of a negative RT-PCR result still applied to visitors who would stay in Subic for at least four days and three nights, regardless of age and place of origin.
“We have gained this additional freedom, so to speak, because we enforced safety protocols before and we’ll continue doing so to be able to open up more businesses in Subic,” he said.
Subic remains the main “go-to” destination in Central Luzon because of its beaches, rivers, mountain trails, theme parks and shopping centers, said Jem Camba, SBMA tourism manager.
She said the new health protocols already allowed seniors in retail establishments, even when customer capacity was still kept at a maximum of 50 percent.
But Camba said health protocols in Subic still prohibited those under 3 years old at beaches and exercise areas. The agency also requires wearing of face masks and face shields in public places.
In La Union province, the local government has allowed the operation of establishments offering recreational scuba diving to help the local tourism industry recover.
On June 2, Gov. Franciso Emmanuel Ortega issued an advisory allowing people of all ages from areas on general community quarantine and MGCQ to join recreational diving activities as long as they are fit and healthy.
Ortega said these activities must still comply with the minimum health standards and the preparedness of diving areas.
But he said establishments offering scuba diving would operate at only 75-percent capacity and subject to restrictions imposed by local governments and the Maritime Industry Authority.
Ortega asked village officials to conduct regular inspections of sports, recreation and leisure facilities like parks, gymnasiums, resorts and running tracks, especially on weekends and public holidays, to ensure that protocols are observed.
—JOANNA ROSE AGLIBOT AND YOLANDA SOTELO
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