THE provincial government of Negros Occidental and the City of Bacolod will continue to impose swab testing for arriving locally stranded individuals (LSIs) despite the new uniform travel protocols issued by the National Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).
Lawyer Rayfrando Diaz, provincial administrator, on Sunday, February 28, 2021, said they will request the approval of the IATF on this matter.
Diaz said Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson has already issued an Executive Order on February 26 extending the modified general community quarantine status of the province until March 31 and stated that LSIs upon arrival will be required to undergo the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test and quarantine.
"The danger posed by Covid-19 is still there, so we feel it's still the prudent thing to do," Diaz said.
He clarified that the province would no longer require travel authorities or health certificates for travelers.
The City Government of Bacolod will also continue its health protocol by requiring travelers entering the city to present their negative RT-PCR Covid-19 test results.
This was stressed by Councilor Renecito Novero, chairman of the city’s quarantine center action team Sunday after the national government approved a uniform travel protocols for all local government units (LGU), with Covid-19 testing and quarantine for travelers no longer mandatory, unless the LGU will make it a requirement.
“So far, in Bacolod City our protocol can still be observed which is requiring travelers entering the city to present negative RT-PCR test results and they will not be required for a quarantine if they have a negative result,” Novero said.
He said if the IATF allows the local government units to establish certain restrictions or additional policy for the people’s safety, then that will not prevent Bacolod from imposing any conditions to require them negative RT-PCR results.
He added if the travelers do not have negative RT-PCR results, the city will require them to undergo testing upon their arrival and will undergo a quarantine while waiting for results.
“This is our policy so we must follow it unless the mayor and the local IATF will abolish this protocol,” Novero said.
He said the city’s existing health protocol is beneficial and the city recorded a zero infection for about two weeks.
Novero said in previous months, some LSIs and authorized persons outside residence (Apors) who tested positive for coronavirus were considered as among the possible causes for the local transmission in the city.
Meanwhile, the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) is backing the new uniformed travel protocols set by the National Inter-Agency Task Force (NIATF).
Frank Carbon, MBCCI chief executive officer, said the new protocols should have long been implemented for local businesses to start recovering following months of restrictions brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Carbon said it would be best if LGUs would be given the authorization to make their respective regulations to further hasten the process.
The MBCCI is planning to release more plans in the coming days to further help the economy recover both for Bacolod City and the whole province of Negros Occidental.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Sunday announced that the NIATF has allowed uniform travel protocols across all LGUs to ease quarantine and documentary requirements.
Under NIATF Resolution No. 101, travelers will no longer be compelled to go on quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms upon arriving at their destination.
Travelers are also no longer required to secure travel authorities or health certificates.
LGUs are given the option of making Covid-19 testing a requirement before travel. Testing will be limited to RT-PCR tests.
Apors from national government agencies and their attached agencies, on the other hand, must provide their identification card, travel order and travel itinerary.
They must likewise pass symptom-screening at the ports of entry and exit.