COMMUNICABILITY has two meanings of import to the public. From the standpoint of health, this refers to the infectiousness or extent a contagion may spread in a populace.
Communicability also measures the responsiveness of authorities to release information, as crucial for citizens preparing for disasters as for participating in governance.
In its Dec. 2 resolution, the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) exhorts the Cebu City Council to adopt a “general policy of pro-active release of information and news and clarification on plans or decisions that affect public interest.”
The local media advocacy group emphasized in past resolutions the responsibility of the government to upload documents that “the public has the right to know as a ‘pro-active gesture of transparency and accountability’,” according to a Dec. 2 report on SunStar Cebu.
Technology and resources must be complemented by strategic communicators who anticipate the public’s need. The CCPC pointed out how citizens and journalists are handicapped by government omissions and inadequacies in disseminating key messages during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
In particular, extremely frustrating for many citizens are the information glitches delaying or even preventing passengers from boarding their plane.
“A developing situation” is bureaucratic jargon that strikes travelers with foreboding because the phrase embraces the unexpected, frequent and confusing changes and updates of travel requirements that citizens and other visitors must fulfill to enter any place in the country.
Guarantees of good health ensure the safety of all. Implicit is every citizen’s stake to contribute in safeguarding his or her health and the safety of other citizens.
Thus, it is civic responsibility to check with local authorities and airline companies for updated requirements that are adjusted in keeping with developments in public health, including restrictions, which vary from one local government to another.
On the other hand, institutions must be sensitive to the information needs of travelers, regardless of their classification as Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs), Authorized Person Outside Residence (Apor) and Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs).
Air travel, specially in the midst of economic dislocations, entails high risks and expenses for travelers.
Local government units (LGUs) and airline companies must optimally use communication resources, technology, strategies and professionals to steer the public through the process of securing the necessary clearances for the authority to travel.
The process is complicated by the number of agencies and their particular requirements, the digital literacy required to consult websites and social media and download apps for contact tracing, and the time and money needed to secure clearances and be screened for Covid-19.
Traditional media, such as radio and television, must also be tapped because their coverage includes citizens who may not have electronic resources or digital literacy, as well as those residing in remote places with no or poor connectivity.
LGUs, agencies and other public authorities must train personnel to assist citizens in registering on the Traze Contact Tracing, an app that the government mandates all travelers to download before going to the airport.
Public service announcements are needed to disseminate new protocols, which require travelers to be in the airport at least three hours before a domestic flight; four hours for international travel, drastic changes from the pre-Covid-19 requirements.
Airline companies and authorities — including the different LGUs — must streamline and unify online passenger profile and health declarations to minimize check-in delays and the resulting crowding that airport authorities seem unable to manage.
Communicability is key to public safety, particularly in the age of pandemic perils.