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Baguio halts issuance of new tourist travel permits

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BAGUIO CITY—The city government has temporarily suspended effective January 2 the issuance of quick response travel permits (QTP) for tourists or leisure travelers as the city prepares new guidelines for non-essential travels.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who is on mandatory quarantine after traveling to the United States to visit his parents during the holidays, said in a phone interview on Monday that he has been holding online meetings with city officials to set the new guidelines that will be covered in an executive order.

He said that aside from decreasing the daily arrival ceiling which is currently at 5,000, the city will also require that leisure travelers from Metro Manila who have already been issued QTPs arriving until January 8 will be required to undergo the antigen test for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at their own expense.

Engr. Aloysius Mapalo, city tourism officer, in an advisory shared to the media on Sunday evening, said that “for now, we are only not allowing to add more to the current pre-approved travels that already exceeded 5,000 daily until January 8.”

“We’re not on lockdown. We also did not stop the entry of tourists, actually, they are here,” he added.

The city government requires tourists to register at the online tourist information portal to be issued a quick response travel permit.

The QTP is the city’s way of counting and assuring that the daily arrival ceiling of 5,000 individuals will not be exceeded. The same is asked to be presented at the border checkpoint and community quarantine triage manned by the city police office before the tourists are led to the central triage at the Baguio Convention Center where thorough verification of document and possible conduct of an antigen test for those exhibiting symptoms is done.

The city information office, in a message to the media, also clarified that the visitors already issued a QTP for January 2-8 will be allowed to enter the city.

Information obtained from the city government showed that officials are mulling on canceling the QTPs issued for arriving tourists in January and February as cases of COVID-19 in the city continue to increase.

On December 30, the City Health Services Office said it was beginning to see an increase in COVID-19 cases, at it recorded a 1.24-percent rise in two weeks.

The City Health Officer has reported that data from the University of the Philippines Baguio Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and the Baguio City Health Services Office showed that from a low of 0.2 percent positivity rate logged during the period December 16-22, the data leaped to 1.44 percent from December 23 to 29.

As of 10 p.m. on January 2, the Department of Health-Cordillera tracker shows Baguio City has 73 active cases with the addition of nine new cases. On December 25, there were only eight active cases.

Mapalo advised those arriving after January to update themselves by checking on the city’s sites for possible changes in protocols that may come about when the city issues new travel guidelines.

The APORs (authorized persons outside the residence) including those with essential and official travel to the city have to register at the online platform for the documentary requirements and the triage health screening.


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