THE lifting of domestic travel restrictions in the NCR Plus bubble is seen to boost the local tourism industry in Cebu.
Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan and members of the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) both welcomed the move of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to allow NCR Plus residents to undertake point-to-point leisure travel to areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
NCR Plus consists of the National Capital Region, or Metro Manila, and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal. The area is under general community quarantine (GCQ) with restrictions until June 15, 2021.
Lapu-Lapu City and the entire Cebu Province are under MGCQ.
“With NCR open, they can now go to places they really want and that would help a lot to reopen our economy,” HRRAC president Alfred Reyes said.
“Tourism is very important for us and hopefully, with the decreasing cases in NCR, this would really help other provinces, particularly Cebu, boost its domestic tourism,” he added.
Chan also recognized the opportunities that this latest IATF directive opened for the tourism industry, which has been brought to its knees by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
He was not worried about Covid-19 transmission since health protocols are in place.
Visitors who wish to enter Lapu-Lapu City need only present their confirmed hotel reservation and a medical certificate. There will be no need for a negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result.
“Our hotels have (health and safety) protocols so this is a good development,” Chan said.
Resolution 118-A issued by the IATF on May 31 allows point-to-point travel from NCR Plus to areas under MGCQ.
There are no age restrictions so that those under 18 and over 65 can also travel, although they are required to undertake an RT-PCR test for Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) may also impose other protocols and restrictions.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Guillermo Eleazar said NCR Plus residents who wish to travel must check the health protocols in their destination as local government units (LGUs) have unique requirements for visitors or tourists.
“I know that you are excited to go outside your homes. But we must remember that the virus is still around. We should take extra precautions when we’re outside,” he said.
In a statement, DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that while pit stops or stopovers are allowed for dining and personal necessities, no side trips shall be made to other tourism destinations.
“On behalf of the DOT, I thank our colleagues in the IATF for this development. Allowing leisure travel for all ages from the NCR Plus Bubble to MGCQ Areas will surely help local tourism back on track towards recovery,” she said.
While Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City and Cebu Province no longer require a negative RT-PCR test result from domestic travelers, Cebu City still requires either a negative swab test result or a travel coordination permit.
This permit may be acquired through registration in the Safe, Swift, and Smart Passage (S-PaSS) travel management system of the Department of Science and Technology.
Based on the executive order issued on March 25, 2021 by Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, those required to submit a negative RT-PCR test result are returning residents, private authorized persons outside of residence (Apor), non-Apor, tourists, and persons traveling for humanitarian reasons (persons or groups conducting outreach activities).
The negative test result must be taken not more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Cebu City.
Travelers who fail to present these requirements will be swabbed upon arrival and go into quarantine while waiting for the result. (JOB / GCM / SunStar Philippines)