CEBU CITY, Philippines – From December 23 to January 3, Cebu will only be accepting returning Filipinos from abroad with residences to come home to in the province.
This is the Cebu provincial government’s response to brimming hotel occupancy rates from local bookings by residents who still do not have access to electricity and water.
“Our hotels are already full. Why? Because our own Cebuanos – because there is no electricity and there is no water – those that can afford are going to the hotels,” Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said in a press conference on Monday, December 20.
Under the new protocol, returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with Cebu residences will be swabbed upon arrival and will stay a maximum of two days in quarantine hotels.
This sets forth a shorter hotel quarantine period mandated by the Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF). The IATF requires seventh-day testing in hotel quarantine if coming from a red list country, fifth-day testing if arriving from a yellow list country, and third-day testing also in hotel quarantine if from a green list country. In terms of days, it will be either eights days if coming from a red list country, six days if from yellow list country, or four if from a green-category country.
Under Garcia’s Executive Order No. 49 signed on Monday, returning Cebuanos need to present the following documentary requirements to be allowed entry:
- A valid identification card and a duly accomplished declaration form stating their residential address in Cebu for OFWs
- Proof of pre-booking at an accredited hotel in Cebu for a maximum of two days for ROFs
A provincial ordinance is also scheduled to be passed by the provincial board to penalize false declarations of Cebu addresses.
Prior to this, Garcia had also mandated a shorter hotel quarantine period for returning Cebuanos through an executive order.
However, IATF responded by insisting on the implementation of its quarantine rules as part of its whole-of-nation approach in battling COVID-19, even imposing flight diversions to Manila.
This time, Garcia said she will be firm in her stand for a Cebu-first policy so residents can continue to take refuge in hotels.
“This is a crisis situation, and as I said, Cebuanos also need these hotels. So, I am declaring a policy of Cebu first,” said Garcia.
So far, only the northern towns of Daanbantayan, San Remigio, Medellin, and Bogo City in Cebu province have regained electricity. The rest of the 44 municipalities and 6 component cities are still waiting for both electric and water supply to return.
Drinking water is also fast becoming a scarcity in the island as supplies in convenience stores are almost completely depleted.
In Cebu City, long queues for bulk water suppliers begin as early as 7 in the morning. – Rappler.com