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DOH cautions gradual opening of tourism sites

Gabbie Parlade

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Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergerie urged the government to exercise caution when it allows the gradual opening of tourism sites as the coronavirus pandemic remains a grave threat.

In a forum held on Friday, Vergeire said that ample analysis of such initiatives should first be established in order to prevent any possible surge of cases.

“We are slowly trying to study it so that we can assert and or determine if opening up in fall will not compromise the safety of our population,” she said.

The health official also explained the importance of striking a balance between health and economy through establishing initial developments before shifting on a wider scale.

“We have to check first, we have to start slow and small before we can fully implement and try to see if really we can go on and open up these kinds of sectors without compromising the safety, or course the transmission risk for people within that community,” Veregerie said.

The national government recently said it is planning to open both Baguio City and Boracay to tourists beginning the first week of October in order to help localities to jump-start the economy.

The Department of Tourism said that among the policies to be implemented include the ‘test before travel rule’ where all visitors are required to have a negative RT-PCR test 48 to 72 hours prior to traveling to the island.

The strict quarantine will be imposed after the test to ensure the travelers’ safety before the set travel date.

Travelers who are aged 21 years old and below as well as those 60 years old and above will be permitted provided that they have no existing comorbidities.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the city will initially accept visitors from Region I as part of its pilot testing.

The idea was welcomed by other local government officials in the Ilocos region who are also considering doing the same thing to their respective provinces.

Although more areas are willing to receive tourists, Magalong—who also serves as the national tracing czar—said that only guided tours will be allowed in the meantime to prevent a possible outbreak of the disease.

Meanwhile, the DOH said it will soon be releasing a complete document of guidelines which includes provision for pathways, tests, and management of cases for domestic travelers.

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