No swab test, but tourists in Cebu must bring a medical certificate

Rosette Adel –

February 22, 2021 | 9:52 p.m.

MANILA, Philippines – Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued an executive order on Monday easing travel restrictions for travelers to the province on tourism-related activities.

In Executive Order No.12, 2021 series, Garcia said Cebu province will continue to reopen and require longer RT-PCR swab testing prior to entry.

“Now, therefore, I Gwendolyn F. Garcia, Governor of Cebu Province under powers conferred on me by law, hereby order that persons traveling to Cebu Province to engage in activities related to tourism are allowed to enter, provided they meet the following conditions:

  1. Present a valid medical certificate which will be the only requirement for the purchase of a ticket to travel by air, land or sea. The medical certificate must be issued by a reputable doctor and within seven days of the date of travel.
  2. Proof of pre-booking of a hotel complex or hotel establishment where they will stay during the duration of their stay. The resort or hotel establishment must be located in Cebu Province and duly accredited by the Cebu Provincial Task Force.
  3. Pass the check-up or symptom screening at the point of departure and at the point of arrival, ”says the order.

The mayors of municipalities and component cities (Bogo, Carcar, Danao, Naga, Talisay and Toledo) are also invited to follow the directive and coordinate with the governor’s office.

Garcia said the order would take effect immediately.

Prior to this directive, passengers arriving at Mactan Cebu International Airport were required to take an RT-PCR swab test on the fifth day from the date of arrival at the airport.

Passengers are also advised to submit health declaration forms, immigration arrival cards and undergo thermal scanners.

Tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has not yet responded to Philstar.comrequest for comments on the new Cebu directive.

The tourism ministry said earlier this month that it was up to local government units “to determine the type of testing deemed best to ensure the safety of their communities and borders.”

Why reopen tourism amid surging COVID-19 cases?

Last Friday, during a press briefing, Garcia said she wanted to reopen tourism in the province due to the lingering economic impact of COVID-19 lockdowns.

“I couldn’t stand the closed beach resorts anymore, the desperate look on the faces of our people, the tragic stories I listen to, some families would be content with just one meal a day,” Garcia said.

She also said she was not just talking about the city’s low-income residents, adding that middle-income families had sold their properties.

“And so, when I said we had to reopen Cebu tourism, from the usual suspects came all the criticisms that I value money rather than life… My response to this question is what would life be good for if there was nothing left to eat? ” said the governor.

Garcia added that of the 400 recent deaths in Cebu, only 121 are linked to COVID-19. Of which, she said, 117 died in hospital.

She also said COVID-19 is a “highly induced disease”, citing that there are more cases of tuberculosis “which has been around longer than COVID-19”.

“With these numbers, I decided we need to focus on our economy which has been devastated by COVID-19 restrictions,” she said.

As of February 21, Cebu Province recorded a total of 33,345 cases. Of which, 26,167 have recovered while the death toll stands at 1,461.

The province has 400 new cases bringing the total number of active cases to 5,717.

Cebu city has the highest number of confirmed cases in total with 16,282 infected registered.

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