Baguio delays tourism opening following virus outbreak

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2020 09:12 AM | Updated as of Sep 22 2020 04:18 PM

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MANILA (UPDATE) — Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Tuesday announced a new target date for opening the city to select tourists, following an outbreak recorded in one of their villages. 

Magalong said that instead of Tuesday, Sept. 22, the new launch date for the "Ridge to Reef" travel corridor with other provinces would be on October 1 so the city could first contain an uptick of coronavirus cases caused by birthday and drinking sprees.

"Nang mag-inuman, malasing, iisang baso na lang, iisang utensil ang ginagamit... Wala nang physical distancing, wala na ring pakialam sa minimum health standards," Magalog earlier told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo. 

(When they got drunk, they shared just one drinking glass, one utensil. There was no longer any physical distancing, compliance to the minimum health standards.)

The mountain city's tourism corridor will be limited to visitors from neighboring Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan provinces, he said. 

"Sinusunod namin iyong aming framework na tinatawag na 3S: surely, safely and slowly. It will be a calibrated and graduated opening ng aming tourism industry," Magalong said. 

(We are following our so-called '3S' framework.) 

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said tourists would have to go through their online visitor management system called the VIS.I.T.A. (Visitor Information and Travel Assistance) platform before being allowed to join the "Ridge to Reef" travel corridor. 

"We are introducing a new digital monitoring system that will be used to keep track of visitor activities to protect our tourists and the communities within the new green corridor. This will also complement the stringent inter-provincial border controls designed to safeguard the public's health and safety in CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region) and Region 1," Puyat said.

ANTIGEN SCREENING

Baguio tourists and some residents will have to participate in the health department's pilot test of the coronavirus antigen screening, Magalong said. 

This test analyzes nasal and oral specimen, and can yield results in 15 minutes. Similar to the RT-PCR test, the gold standard in screening, the antigen test detects "current infection," officials earlier said. 

Baguio's flower farms, Mines View and Burnham parks, hotels and restaurants will be open, while bars remain restricted, Magalong said. 

Tourists can also visit the Bencab Museum in nearby Tuba town, Tublay's picnic area, the Sakura trees in Benguet province, and the Sunflower farm in La Trinidad, said the mayor. 

Baguio has tallied 564 coronavirus infections, of which around 170 are active, Magalong said. 

— with reports from Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News