More areas in Luzon on tourist lockdown
Cesar Ramirez, Raymund Catindig, Gilbert Bayoran, Ding Cervantes, Eva Visperas, Artemio Dumlao (The Philippine Star) - March 11, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Three more towns in the Cordilleras and Angeles City in Pampanga have been declared off-limits to tourists as the number of those infected with the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) in the country continues to rise. 

In an executive order issued on Monday, Mayor Franklyn Odsey of Bontoc, Mountain Province said all crowd-drawing and tourist activities are suspended until further notice. 

Odsey said the proclamation would enable concerned government agencies to utilize appropriate resources to implement urgent measures to prevent the spread of the virus, mitigate its effects on the community and ensure that there is no serious disruption of government and community functions.   

Tourist guides were ordered against accommodating both local and foreign visitors.   

“Tourists who are passing through the municipality shall be advised to proceed to their intended destinations and not to linger within the municipality,” Odsey said.

He said gatherings of at least 100 persons, including family reunions, sports competitions and homecomings, are discouraged.

Odsey said commencement exercises are allowed provided programs do not exceed five hours.

Mayor Clark Ngaya of Barlig, also in Mountain Province, suspended tourist activities as recommended by the municipal health board, epidemiology and surveillance unit and COVID-19 task force.

The Letang burial cave, Naculla Rice Terraces and Potec Falls are among the tourist attractions in Barlig.

In Ifugao, Banaue cancelled the celebration of the Imbayah Festival next month as a precautionary measure.

Atok in Benguet and Sagada in Mountain Province were earlier placed on tourist lockdown due to COVID-19. The ban was lifted last month.

Checkpoints

Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr. ordered the setting up of police checkpoints to restrict the entry of tourists from COVID-hit countries.

Lazatin said the checkpoints should be manned for 24 hours.

He said foreigners from China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Macau and South Korea would be barred from entering the city.

Hotels and similar establishments were asked not to accept tourists from these countries.

Angeles hosts a so-called Korea town, a strip of business establishments owned by South Koreans, many of whom study in the city.

Lazatin also met with mall managers to discuss precautionary measures against COVID-19.

He said he would meet with officials of the Department of Education as well as heads of public and private schools regarding plans for a citywide disinfection plan.

Classes in the city were suspended until Friday as a preventive measure.

No touch

In Pangasinan, a no-touch or close physical contact policy among students and school personnel is being implemented at the Dagupan City National High School-Junior High to prevent the spread of the flu virus.

“Kissing the hands of teachers and any physical close contact with anyone is prohibited for now,” school principal Medarlo de Leon said in an advisory.

Classes in Lingayen town remain suspended until Friday.

Meanwhile, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Pangasinan passed a resolution on the postponement of barangay fiestas.

Board member Jose Peralta Jr., provincial federation president of the Liga ng mga Barangay, sponsored the resolution during their session on Monday, saying COVID-19 reached Pangasinan when a Filipina, who attended a reunion in the province tested positive of the flu virus upon her return to Australia.

Tracing of persons with contact with the patient during her stay in the province from Feb. 22 to 23 is ongoing.

Board member Jerome Vic Espino, provincial federation president of the Sangguniang Kabataan, said SK gatherings should also be suspended indefinitely.

Mayor Salvador Escalante Jr. of Cadiz City, Negros Occidental also ordered a ban on gatherings of more than 100 persons as a precautionary measure.

Ban on foreign vessels lifted

In Bacolod City, vessels from China, Macau and Hong Kong may now dock at the city ports.

Mayor Evelio Leonardia lifted the ban in response to the letter of Interior Secretary Eduardo Año saying preventing the entry of vessels from countries affected by the flu virus is not in accordance with the circular issued by the Department of Health.

However, Leonardia said crewmembers of foreign vessels are not still not allowed to disembark.

COVID-19 LOCKDOWN
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