Local government units (LGUs) may now allow children below 15 years old and senior citizens over 65 years old to travel for tourism purposes in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), Malacañang said in a statement on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, during its meeting on Thursday, Nov. 19, relaxed age restrictions in tourism “upon the determination of the LGUs and guidelines to be issued by the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).”
The IATF also instructed LGUs to relax entry protocols, such as the test-upon-arrival requirement, imposed upon airline crew layovers/positioning during emergency situations.
Emergency situations include typhoons, volcanic activities, diversions and emergency landings, and other similar unforeseen and time-sensitive evacuations.
Airline crew members are also allowed to temporarily stay in accommodation establishments under a “bubble” concept supervised by the LGUs.
The IATF also removed the requirement for air carriers to reserve a portion of the aircraft cabin as an isolation area for suspected ill passengers on board as part of the Covid-19 health protocols for domestic flights.
The new IATF resolution is a “very good development” for the tourism industry, said Cebu City Tourism Commissioner Jocelyn Pesquera as it complements the “staycation” with the family, which is being promoted by the Tourism Commission.
Pesquera said it also answers the clamor of the tourism sector to relax government restrictions as it tries to recover from financial losses months after reopening in September when the city’s quarantine status was downgraded to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
“It is still challenging times for our tourism stakeholders,” she said.
Pesquera said about 20 percent of accredited establishments deferred their operations to January 2021.
Tourism-related establishments in the city were forced to temporarily shut down due to government restrictions when Cebu City was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) last March.
At the Provincial Capitol, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia thanked the IATF for loosening travel restrictions.
“We thank the IATF for affirming our position. This will be a much-needed boost to the country’s tourism industry and the economy,” Garcia told Sunstar Cebu on Friday.
With Cebu Province now under MGCQ, the IATF’s order would benefit its towns and component cities which depend on tourism as a commodity, Garcia said.
The Province’s tourism industry has been heavily affected by strict quarantine protocols.
As of November this year, around 212 tourism establishments in Cebu Province reopened after complying with the new health protocols set by the Provincial Tourism Task Force.
In Lapu-Lapu City, Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan also welcomed the IATF’s decision, especially since he had sought the its approval to allow minors below 15 years old and senior citizens above age 65 to travel with their families for tourism.
“It is very advantageous to the city of Lapu-Lapu, but of course we will still follow the minimum health protocols set by the IATF,” Chan said. / PR, JJL, ANV / JKV, GCM