MANILA - Baguio City is capable of handling leisure travelers as it reopens its borders to visitors despite being under a stricter quarantine status, the Department of Health said Friday.
"Nakakaasa naman po tayo (We can all expect) that Mayor [Benjamin] Magalong is very strict and compliant to this kind of things," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters in a press briefing.
"So, makakaasa po tayo na ipapatupad ng local government ng City of Baguio itong pamantayan na ito."
(So, we can expect that the local government of City of Baguio will implement the [health] standards.)
The government's inter-agency task force has allowed hotels and similar establishments in the country's summer capital to accept leisure travelers despite being under the general community quarantine.
It first opened its doors to tourists in October 2020 following months of closure due to the strict lockdown.
But in February, tourists were barred again from entering Baguio City after shifting to GCQ, the third strictest of 4 quarantine levels, as cases of the UK COVID-19 variant were detected in the Cordillera Region.
To date, the Philippines has recorded 17 cases of the highly transmissible coronavirus variant, of which 12 were found in Bontoc, Mountain Province and 1 in La Trinidad, Benguet.
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Baguio City has so far tallied 5,097 coronavirus infections, of which 97 have succumbed to the illness. The tally includes 4,539 recoveries and 461 active cases.
"Ang Baguio City... meron pa rin silang mataas na pagtala ng mga kaso (they still report high number of cases). Although nakikita natin na (we are seeing that) they are slowly managing because of their health care utilization," Vergeire said.
On Thursday, Baguio City recorded 35 new cases, 43 recoveries and 2 fatalities, its public information office said.
Because of a comparatively small COVID-19 outbreak compared to other cities, it has been praised for quick and effective action against the crisis.
However, in late January, Magalong drew flak after he and his wife attended a party in the city that allegedly violated health protocols.
He stepped down as the country's contact tracing czar but his resignation was not accepted by the Inter-Agency Task Force. He then said his resignation was irrevocable.