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Baguio limits entry of tourists

Only 3,000 visitors allowed in summer capital daily as tests for fully vaxxed are no longer required

BURNHAM RIDE As travel restrictions are eased, tourists are gradually returning to Baguio City to enjoy its attractions, like the biking area at Burnham Park. The government has set aside the COVID-19 testing requirement for fully vaccinated leisure travelers in an effort to revive the local tourism industry. —EV ESPIRITU

BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — The city will maintain a daily limit of 3,000 tourists after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) eased the rules on interzonal travel of fully vaccinated persons, Mayor Benjamin Magalong said on Monday.

Magalong, who also oversees the government’s contact tracing efforts, said the city had been drawing an average of 800 visitors during weekdays and up to 1,000 guests during weekends.

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Baguio has allowed the entry of tourists who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and who will not be required to present negative COVID-19 test results.

Misgivings

According to the city government, only leisure travelers, regardless of age, from areas on general community quarantine and modified general community quarantine, the two least restrictive quarantine classifications, would be allowed to enter the city.

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Malacañang on Tuesday said local governments with misgivings about allowing the entry of fully vaccinated leisure travelers should comply with the new IATF rules.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said local governments should follow the rules for now, but added that the IATF was willing to listen and discuss their concerns.

“When the IATF issued resolutions, it acts for and [on] behalf of the President. But the IATF is not deaf to the complaints and suggestions of local governments. We would talk about that in the IATF. But we ask everyone to comply with IATF resolutions as of now,” Roque said at a press briefing.

He issued the statement in response to reports that several local governments were reluctant to allow the entry of fully vaccinated leisure travelers without a swab test.

Roque also warned those who would manufacture fake COVID-19 vaccination cards that they would face penalties.

“If you make a fake vaccination card, that’s falsification of a public document. It would merit a long prison sentence,” he said.

Registration

Magalong said tourists would still be required to register through Baguio’s online platform, visita.baguio.gov.ph, before their visit and present their quick response (QR)-coded passes here.

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Vaccinated tourists would also be asked to undergo a mandatory triage upon arrival in the city and present a confirmed booking in any of the 374 accredited hotels, inns and transient homes as proof of their stay here.

In a statement on Tuesday, Magalong said imposing the limit on daily tourist arrivals would “gradually and safely revive the heavily impacted city tourism industry with calculated risk so as not to compromise the local health-care system.”

In Quezon, Alberto Bay, provincial tourism officer, said the easing of travel rules would help revive local economies but appealed to the government to hasten the vaccination of workers in tourism-related establishments to ensure the safety of all.

The province has started the gradual reopening of its beaches, nature parks and other destinations as quarantine restrictions are eased.

—WITH A REPORT FROM DELFIN T. MALLARI JR. INQ]
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TAGS: Baguio Tourism, COVID-19 pandemic, pandemic travel restrictions
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