INBOUND domestic travelers to Cebu City will still need to present negative swab test results, although they will no longer be required to undergo quarantine for 14 days.

Only those authorized persons outside of residence (Apor) are exempted from the RT-PCR requirement.

Other requirements, such as the medical certificate and travel authority from the Joint Task Force Covid Shield, have been dropped in compliance with the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to ease travel requirements.

The City Governments of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, on the other hand, have dropped the swab test, medical certificate and travel authority requirements.

But Mandaue City still requires inbound domestic travelers to secure a certificate of confirmation, which requires the submission of some documents.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, in a press conference on Friday, March 5, 2021, said the new travel protocol covers inbound travelers, including tourists, Apor and locally stranded individuals (LSIs).

“Wala na’y travel authority, kana na lang RT-PCR (There’s no longer any need for a travel authority, just the RT-PCR). Once they have that, okay na (they can enter),” said Labella.

“Release na sila, wala nang quarantine (There will be no need for quarantine). If they (are) found positive, of course, they will have to undergo quarantine,” he added.

He said he merely heeded the recommendation of health officials. He pointed out that the IATF had given local government units the option to retain the RT-PCR test requirement.

Labella said he might reconsider the RT-PCR requirement when coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in Cebu City decline.

As of March 5, however, there were still 3,453 active cases in Cebu City.

Councilor Joel Garganera, deputy chief implementer of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), said the mayor is set to bring back the booth at the ports to check the requirements of inbound travelers.

Labella asked for patience, saying the retention of the swab test requirement is aimed at keeping the Covid-19 situation in the city in check.

The easing of the other travel requirements is seen to boost the city’s economy.

At the same time, we should allow the business sector to sustain their commercial endeavors because we really have to bring back the economy to a better condition,” he said.

Mandaue City

'Mandaue City EOC head August Lizer Malate said travelers no longer need to present a swab test result, medical certificate and travel authority.

Hazel Tamondong, head of Mandaue City Tourism Office (MCTO), said their Facebook page has received 50 to 60 inquiries from domestic tourists per day since the new travel protocol was posted.

She said the MCTO released 175 to 200 certificates of confirmation from March 2 to 5, mostly to tourists from the National Capital Region (NCR) and Ormoc, Leyte. A certification of confirmation covers up to five individuals.

“Certificate of confirmation is what we issue to those (who) email us the documents. It is just to confirm to them that the documents that we received are in order and validated,” said Tamondong.

She said they have different requirements for LSIs or returning residents, Apor, and non-Apor or travelers for leisure activities.

LSIs or returning residents will have to email MCTO a scanned copy of a valid ID, certificate of barangay residency and complete address in Mandaue City with contact number.

They must pass symptoms screening at the ports.

An Apor returning for work in a private establishment will have to email a certificate of employment, travel order, company ID, travel itinerary and confirmed hotel booking or accommodation.

An Apor returning for work in government agencies will have to submit a government-issued ID, travel order and travel itinerary.

A non-Apor or traveler for leisure activities will have to submit a government-issued ID, confirmed hotel booking or accommodation, and travel itinerary.

Tamondong said the most important information that they need from the tourists are their contact number and address in Mandaue City, and booking confirmation.

This way, she said, they could not use Mandaue City as a back door. Such information is also needed for contact tracing.

Lapu-Lapu City

All travel requirements have been dropped in Lapu-Lapu City, but the City Government will strictly enforce public health standards.

Lawyer Misaellee Tejano, secretary to the mayor, said in a meeting on March 4 that the City no longer requires domestic travelers, Apor and returning residents to submit a letter of acceptance, travel endorsements, travel authority, medical certificates and swab test results.

The City, however, has yet to seek clarification with the IATF on whether the removal of the RT-PCR test as a travel requirement applies to returning overseas Filipinos and foreign nationals traveling to the Philippines.

While easing travel restrictions, the City Government is tightening enforcement of safety protocols by creating the Anti-Covid Barangay Enforcement Unit (BEU).

Tejano said the police will head the BEU team, which will be composed of barangay tanods, representatives from the Barangay Mayor’s Office (BMO), and representatives from Cenro and Solid Waste Management Office.

The team will strictly enforce proper wearing of face masks and face shields, physical distancing and the 50 percent capacity limitation.

Violators will be issued citation tickets, if they opt to pay the fine of P1,000, or required to do community service. (JJL / KFD)