La Union, Philippines —Ilocos Norte has reimposed COVID-19 testing requirements for all persons entering the province, regardless of vaccination status.
Gov. Matthew Marcos Manotoc issued an executive order on January 5 to protect the province against the threat of the spreading Omicron variant.
Border protocols now require all persons to undergo antigen tests upon arrival at the provincial borders. They also have the option to present a negative RT-PCR test taken within the last 60 hours prior to arrival or a negative antigen test within the last 24 hours.
The reimposed curbs exempt returning residents whose exit and re-entry are within 72 hours or less.
Border testing of all incoming residents and registered tourists staying for at least two nights will be shouldered by the provincial government, Manotoc said.
The province also capped capacities for indoor and outdoor venues at 30-percent and 50-percent, respectively.
Those holding events are now required to secure a prior approval from the local government. All attendees, including staff, must be fully vaccinated against the disease, said Manotoc.
The provincial government also banned “private gatherings” and ordered indoor establishments and businesses to check the vaccination status of individuals before entry.
On November 16 last year, the province scrapped all COVID-19 testing requirements for fully vaccinated returning residents after it contained a spread of the virus fueled by the Delta variant.
The number of cases started to pick up as the year started, with at least 67 cases added to the province’s COVID-19 tally since January 1, according to the data from the provincial government.
As of January 6, the province had 77 active COVID-19 cases out of the 19,030 total infections logged since the pandemic began.
In Ilocos Sur province, COVID-19 border protocols remained unchanged as fully vaccinated returning residents are only asked to present proof of their status, said Gov. Ryan Luis Singson.
He said that the province is monitoring the trend in COVID-19 cases before it hands down new protocols.
Both Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur are under COVID-19 Alert Level 2. – Rappler.com
John Michael Mugas is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship