COVID-19

Baguio reinstates COVID-19 testing, reduces daily limit for tourists

Sherwin de Vera
Baguio reinstates COVID-19 testing, reduces daily limit for tourists

The view of Burnham Park from SM Baguio's Sunset Terrace.

Mau Victa.

The new testing requirement covers VISITA registrations approved before January 6

BAGUIO CITY – The country’s Summer Capital will remain open for leisure and non-essential travels for fully vaccinated individuals. However, those coming from areas under Alert Level 3 will have to present a COVID-19 negative test result before entering the city.

In his first issuance for 2022, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong ordered tighter restrictions for leisure and non-essential travelers from January 6 to 18.

Under Executive Order No. 1-2022, fully vaccinated leisure and non-essential travelers from areas under Alert Level 3 must still present RT-PCR negative tests results taken within 72 hours before their entry. Border guards and triage centers will also honor negative results of rapid antigen tests conducted 24 hours before arrival.

The City Health Office will also supervise triage units in the city. Visitors may take their antigen test in these facilities upon arrival.

The test requirement order also covers travel companions aged 12 to 17, “regardless of vaccination status.”

All VISITA registrations approved before January 6, remain valid. However, the testing requirement shall apply. 
The city will allow essential travel for authorized persons outside of residence (APORs) with complete travel documents. They also need to register at hdf.baguio.gov.ph.

Magalong reduced the maximum number of daily visitors approved by the city through the Visitor Information and Travel Assistance app (VISITA, visita.baguio.gov.ph) to 4000 from 5000.

Baguio’s Session Road full of pedestrian. Photo by Mau Victa

City Tourism Officer Alec Mapalo said those booked in hotels with triage units through VISITA are excluded from the maximum visitor count.

“We can still go beyond 4000 [if we include those] in hotels or accommodations with triage facility,” Mapalo said.

“We have a separate list for that, but they are also limited to 70% capacity,” he added.

The set limit plus the 70% occupancy would still be around 8000 individuals a day, according to Mapalo.

However, he pointed out that accommodation facilities filled only about half of their rooms even at the peak period of the holiday season.

Mapalo said visitors in the city peaked on December 26, with 7400 individuals based on VISITA registrations.

He said the city might further reduce the limit after the set period in the order. The local government may also expand coverage of the testing requirements to include all travelers and decrease accommodation capacity.

Magalong said the city temporarily suspended the approval of new travel requests in preparation for the gradual reduction of travelers to minimize the risk of transmission from other localities with raised alert levels.

“We are actively aligning proactive plans across all affected sectors so that travel can still take place in a safe environment with minimized risk,” he said. – Rappler.com