BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Negros Occidental has shut down its borders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the province.
On Sunday night, March 15, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson signed an executive order implementing the closure of the province’s borders, ports, and airports effective immediately. There was a clamor among Negrenses for the closure, as thousands left Metro Manila for the provinces over the weekend to escape the megacity’s lockdown.
In the order, Lacson said that the closure will remain in full force and effect until April 14.
The entry of persons will be restricted except for the following:
– All duly identified residents of Negros Occidental, its cities, and municipalities
– Health workers responding to an emergency
– Members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and all branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
– Persons traveling for urgent medical or humanitarian reasons
– Persons transporting essential goods, supplies, and medicines
Lacson also ordered the full activation of the Inter-Agency COVID-19 Border Monitoring and Regulation Task Force, which will be composed of officials from the province’s local government units and barangays, members of the PNP and AFP, the Philippine Ports Authority, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.
The task force is authorized to defend the borders of the province by setting up checkpoints and preventing the entry of non-residents, with or without symptoms of the disease.
Checkpoints will be established at the following Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental borders: Kabankalan City and Mabinay town, Hinoba-an town and Bayawan City, San Carlos City and Vallahermoso town, La Castellana town and Canlaon City, and other roads that may be used as an entry point.
Negros Oriental, the adjacent province, already reported its first coronavirus death on Sunday, March 15. He was a 64-year-old councilor from Tayasan town who traveled to Manila on February 26 to attend the Philippine Councilor’s League convention.
Lacson, in the order, also said that returning residents must also be checked for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and should undergo a 14-day home quarantine.
The governor also said all air and sea travel is banned, and that the PCG and PPA should ensure that ports in the province remain closed during the effectivity of the order, while public utility vehicles will be refrained from crossing the borders of the province.
The order also imposed a prohibition on the spread of fake news, stating, “Sharing of unconfirmed reports is strictly prohibited. Only valid and verified information shall be published and shared.”
Bacolod also under quarantine
Bacolod City, a highly-urbanized city that is not under the jurisdiction of the province, also declared a general community quarantine.
Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia also signed the executive order Sunday night, March 15, that will restrict all land, sea, and air travel to and from the city.
Movement of goods or cargo to and from the city shall not be hampered or restricted, but the persons delivering will be subjected to the necessary health check procedures.
Checkpoints will also be set up at Bacolod’s points of entry. – Rappler.com