Tourists to Cebu City still required to show negative swab test result

TOURISTS are welcome to Cebu City as long as they can produce a swab test for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) with a negative result.

Mayor Edgardo Labella said that while he respects the prerogative of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, who recently issued an executive order (EO) requiring tourists entering the province to present only a medical certificate, visitors to the city must show a negative result for a swab test that was taken three days before travel.

“After consultation with our medical experts, we’ve decided to continue to abide by DOH (Department of Health) testing protocols,” Labella told reporters on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021.

Aside from a negative result of a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test, non-essential travelers entering the city must also secure a travel itinerary, a travel authority, a confirmed booking of accommodation in the city and a round-trip ticket or travel details.

These requirements are provided under EO 105 released by the mayor last November.

Labella said the monitoring of inbound travelers, especially at ports managed by the City, will be intensified to identify those bound for Cebu City and those bound for Cebu Province.

Earlier this week, Garcia signed EO 12, which sets easier rules for travel to Cebu Province.

Under EO 12, there are only three requirements: a valid medical certificate issued by a reputable doctor within seven days before the trip, proof of pre-booking at a resort or hotel where the tourist shall stay for the duration of the visit and passing the Covid-19 symptoms checking at points of departure and arrival.

Garcia wants to revive the province’s flagging tourism economy, which has been affected by lockdowns and lack of visitors.

Meanwhile, the DOH 7 said it would uphold its testing protocols and guidelines to curb Covid-19 transmission.

However, it also recognized “syndromic surveillance,” which Governor Garcia intends to implement in the province in line with her thrust to open its tourism industry.

“Thus, if this is what the governor wants to follow, then we need to also put additional guidelines,” said Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson.

According to her, syndromic surveillance means authorities monitor for the development of Covid-19 symptoms.

“Once there are symptoms, then consult, test, isolate, contact trace,” she said.

She said based on their meetings, the governor will allow visitors with medical certificates stating that they are free from Covid symptoms and they must pass health screening like temperature scanning.

Should the visitor develop symptoms during his stay, he must go through the process of consultation, isolation, testing and contact tracing, she said.

“If this will be fully implemented with clear guidelines, including the monitoring for adherence to the public health measures, then it can be considered,” Loreche added.

Cebu Province’s jurisdiction, however, does not include the tri-cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu. (JJL, WBS)