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Zambales shuts doors anew to leisure travelers

/ 04:35 AM August 02, 2021

NO ENTRY The popular Pundaquit Beach in San Antonio, Zambales province, is off-limits again to tourists starting on Aug. 1 as the country braced for an increasing number of patients who contracted the COVID-19 Delta variant. —JOANNA ROSE AGLIBOT

SAN ANTONIO, Zambales, Philippines — Two months after it allowed tourists back, Zambales province has once more suspended all leisure travel as a precaution against the entry of the more contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus disease.

The move was a response to the impending hard lockdown of Metro Manila from Aug. 6 to Aug. 20, where most of the province’s tourists come from.

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The province welcomed back tourists only on May 28, more than a year since all tourist destinations in Central Luzon were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But on Friday night, the provincial tourism office announced that quarantine travel passes, hotel bookings and pending travel requests have been canceled.

“The suspension of travel will last until the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) [covering the] National Capital Region [in August] and other ECQ and modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) areas,” the tourism office announced.

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The tourism office said those who were authorized to proceed to Zambales for essential travel were required to register in their online visitor’s platform: s-pass.ph.

Essential travelers must also present negative results from their reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests or their rapid antigen tests, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

La Union clearance

Provincial health director Dr. Noel Bueno said 29,957 residents in this province are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, out of a target of 400,000 residents to achieve herd immunity.

To date, Zambales has recorded a total of 4,266 COVID-19 patients, 367 of whom are still active cases while 116 of them have died.

The same border clearances are required by La Union province, which enforced stricter border controls for tourists and essential travelers beginning Aug. 2., according to an order issued by Gov. Emmanuel Francisco Ortega III on July 30.

Tourists from all quarantine classification areas must show they have been cleared by RT-PCR tests taken within 72 hours before entering La Union, even if they were fully vaccinated. Essential travelers and residents who came from ECQ and MECQ areas would also need to show negative test results.

The vaccination card would be a requirement for entry by those coming from general community quarantine and modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) areas and for Filipinos returning from overseas.

La Union, which is under MGCQ, has 614 active cases, 177 of them in San Fernando City.

—REPORTS FROM JOANNA ROSE AGLIBOT AND YOLANDA SOTELO 
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TAGS: COVID-19 Delta variant, Zambales travel restrictions
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