THE Department of Health-Cordillera (DOH–CAR) clarified the decision to suspend or cancel scheduled festivals in the country will have to come from local chief executives.
At least 10 local government units in the Cordillera have cancelled their crowd drawing tourism related events to prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid–19).
Doctor Jennifer Joyce Pira, Medical Officer IV of the Disease Prevention and Control Cluster (DPCC), assured it is safe to conduct festivals and public gatherings in the region, based on a joint memorandum between the Departments of Tourism (DOT), the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the DOH.
“This joins statement of the DOH, DILG and the DOT on public gatherings ensure everyone that it is safe to organize and attend public gatherings, meetings and festivals as long as all precautionary measures identified by the DOH are observed,” Pira said.
The joint statement clarifies the DOH advisory on concerts and other public events and gatherings issued February 7, 2020.
DOH reminded the public to practice proper hand washing and to seek medical attention If signs of coughs, colds, itchy throat, fever would appear during this season.
“All preventive and precautionary measures have been put in place by the national government to contain the spread of the Covid-19. The guidelines in handling guests in tourism enterprises during this global emergency are being implemented in hotels and resorts around the country even before the temporary travel ban and facilities are equipped with the infrared thermometers and more hand sanitizers,” the health specialist stated.
Pira added the safety of the public specially tourists and employees in the tourism sector remains the government’s priority.
Doctor Amelita Pangilinan, DOH–CAR OIC director, earlier explained DOH does not give recommendations on whether or not a local government unit should cancel or postpone a crowd drawing tourism event, but only provides the latest information and data coming from the agency.
“All local government units have their memo circular to come up with plans for anti Covid–19,” said Pangilinan, referring to Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año’s memo.
Pangilinan said local executives are the once who makes the final decision on whether or not to reschedule to a later date their major crowd drawing activities or close their eco-tourism sites.
“I called them personally to verify before I give the feedback to our bosses in our central office, the final decision will remain with the local chief executives,” Pangilinan added.
Among the local government units in the region which cancelled their crowd drawing tourism activities is the Province of Kalinga for their 25th founding anniversary and fourth Bodong festival, the Strawberry festival of La Trinidad, Benguet which will be held for next year, and the Ugbaya festival of Besao, Mountain Province.
The municipalities Sagada, Mountain Province, Tinglayan and Pasil in Kalinga, Atok, Bakun and Kabayan in Benguet have cancelled all their tourism related activities for campers and trekkers.
Buguias, also in Benguet recently cancelled its town fiesta while Baguio City have rescheduled the Baguio Flower Festival or Panagbenga.