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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Bacolod sets aside negative RT-PCR requirement for inbound travelers

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Bacolod City – Mayor Evelio Leonardia made a bold move by setting aside the negative RT-PCR result as a requirement for fully-vaccinated, in-bound travelers from any point in Western Visayas and Negros Oriental which remain under Alert Level 3.

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“We must learn how to live with the virus and adjust to it accordingly and cautiously,” Leonardia said with the issuance yesterday of Executive Order No. 3 that consequently modified the city government’s travel policies.

The latest move of the city government, as contained in E.O. No. 3, was initiated to strike a balance between ensuring the constituents’ health and sustaining the local economy by minimizing the loss of jobs and livelihood opportunities and slowing down of economic activities.

Under the new E.O., fully vaccinated, in-bound passengers from Region 6 and Negros Oriental are no longer required to present negative RT-PCR test results when entering the port of Bacolod or any point of entry under the city’s jurisdiction.

Unvaccinated individuals, or those who have received only the first dose of a two-dose vaccine series, however, must present a negative Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) taken by any Department of Health-accredited clinic or laboratory 24 hours before boarding at their point of origin.

These E.O. No. 3 provisions amended Section 1 of E.O.  No. 1 and Paragraph 1, Section 2 of E.O. No. 2, setting aside the travel requirement for a negative RT-PCR test result on intra-zonal and inter-zonal travel to Bacolod City.

“We need to balance the scale between the health of the people and the socio-economic activities of our constituents that, among others, involve the transport of essential goods to and from Bacolod City,” Leonardia emphasized.

While the new mandate lifted the need for a negative RT-PCR, in-bound fully vaccinated travelers are still required to present their online BaCTrac registration, vaccination card and a valid personal ID.

They must also pass a symptom screening at the point of entry upon arrival in Bacolod City and must comply with existing minimum public health standards.

Under E.O. No. 3, all government officials and public sector personnel on official business are allowed unimpeded travel into Bacolod City from any area regardless of the Alert Level status, provided that they must present a valid ID issued by their respective government agency; vaccination card for those who are fully vaccinated; an original or certified true copy of their travel order issued by their head of agency or authorized supervisor; pass a symptom screening at the air or seaport upon arrival and must comply with existing minimum public health standards.

Partially vaccinated and unvaccinated government officials and personnel are still required to present a negative RAT within 24 hours before boarding at their point of origin.

The city government can refuse the entry of any person, including those who fail to comply with travel requirements; exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 upon arrival; refuse established testing and quarantine protocols and those who present falsified, false or tampered documents such as vaccination cards and/or laboratory certifications on RAT results.

The local Philippine National Police (PNP) is also directed to cooperate and assist with the LGU in implementing health and safety protocols, which may include apprehension and prosecution of any person violating any provisions of the EO.

Leonardia cited provisions of the Local Government Code of 1991 that provide for the LGU’s autonomy as a highly-urbanized city in the crafting of the order.

The mayor also held consultations via a five-hour virtual meeting with Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, local IATF chair; members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, key executives of the Emergency Operations Center-Task Force, City Health Office, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, health and medical frontliners and city personnel involved in isolation and quarantine operations management, among others, before finalizing details of E.O. No. 3.

(News & photo courtesy of Bacolod City Public Information Office)

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