Baguio City shuts borders to tourists anew amid COVID-19 scare | Inquirer News
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Baguio City shuts borders to tourists anew amid COVID-19 scare

/ 06:00 PM January 02, 2022

The pond area fronting the presidential Mansion at Wright Park has become a popular jogging and walking path where Baguio City residents and visitors enjoy the fresh
mountain air. (NEIL CLARK ONGCHANGCO)

Updated @ 1:29 a.m., Jan. 3, 2022

BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — The city government has again closed its borders to tourists on Sunday amid the threat posed by the COVID-19 Omicron variant and the rising number of infections.

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The city’s Visitor Information and Travel Assistance (Visita) platform stopped entertaining applications from tourists beginning on Sunday (Jan. 2), following a meeting called by Mayor Benjamin Magalong, said Aloysius Mapalo, city tourism operations supervisor.

But Baguio will honor approved schedules and hotel bookings secured by guests prior to the Jan. 2 suspension, “until further notice,” Mapalo said.

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Local hotels have booked guests from January until March, he said.

“We’ll have a flexible travel policy depending on the situation of (COVID-19) cases. As of now, all those pre-approved (trips) are allowed, without adding more. But that may change in the future,” Mapalo said.

“(But) all pending travel requests are considered rejected and (would not be) allowed entry,” according to a tourism office advisory.

More than 190,000 visitors have toured Baguio as of Dec. 26 since the city reopened leisure travel during the Halloween and All Saints Day weekend in November, which helped revive the economy.

The city also achieved herd immunity and has vaccinated 91 percent of a targeted 281,000 population. Based on the 2020 census, Baguio has 366,358 residents.

But the city health services office says Baguio’s COVID-19 active cases rose to 64 on New Year’s Day from only four on Christmas Day. On Sunday, Jan. 2, the number increased to 73.

The city had benefited from a sustained drop in infections last month after enduring a wave of COVID-19 transmissions in September.

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