DOT to Balesin: Only 'urgent' medical cases allowed for travel outside 'NCR Plus'

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat clarified that only "urgent" medical cases are allowed for travel outside of the so-called "NCR Plus" bubble.

Puyat said on Tuesday, March 23, that the Department of Tourism (DOT) was informed that the exclusive Balesin Island Club is offering travel to the resort for medical purposes.

ABS-CBN reported that Balesin Island Club, through its in-house Aegle Wellness Center, is offering an "Anti-COVID Immunity Treatment Program." The posh resort justified travel to Balesin for this program.

"The exceptions for non-essential travel should not be used as a means to circumvent the restrictions," said Puyat.

"The guidelines are clear. When we talk of medical exemptions, we are talking about medical emergencies or those cases with urgency," she added.

Asked whether the DOT will investigate the matter, Puyat said they "will be reminding Balesin about rules on non-essential travel" from "NCR Plus."

The national government on Monday, March 22, closed down the Greater Manila Area's borders due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. Only travel between Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna is allowed.

Quezon province, where Balesin is located, is not part of the "NCR Plus" bubble.

Tourism activities and staycations are still allowed within the bubble, but subject to local and DOT guidelines.

Rappler reached out to Balesin Island Club and Aegle Wellness Center, but they have yet to respond to our message and emails. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at