Barred entry

VERBAL VARIETY - Annie Fe Perez (The Freeman) - June 15, 2021 - 12:00am

I once had a plan to visit Negros Oriental to visit my friends in Dumaguete City. It was a long overdue trip since the pandemic started. I was pretty confident that the trip would push through, the protocols were just enough to allow us to cross and get back home on time. Cebu Province didn't require a negative RT-PCR test and neither did Negros. However, just days before the scheduled trip, it felt like the barriers were up once again and it was hard for us to push through. Waiting for a RT-PCR result is just too tedious to do, let alone also expensive.

Now it is Cebu's turn to deny the entry of travelers from Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and the Province of Bohol. It is a semi-permeable barrier that is believed to protect us from the fast transmission of the virus. But the walls are doing more harm than good. A lot of businesses will have to suffer due to immobilization and there will be exhaustion from those who wanted so desperately to travel. As for me, trips outside Cebu should be placed on hold for the moment.

A few of my cousins from Manila visited me last week to join my wedding. They breezed through the restrictions easily thinking that there would be strict checking of their documents. Yet it seemed like just mere compliance and no intention to curb the virus. We are indeed getting tired. It is an argument if we want to protect ourselves or enjoy the things in life that we have missed so much. The tour operators are slowly losing their savings. The more entry is barred, the more that their livelihood suffers and its effects could just be worse.

Sometimes I wonder if there is indeed a tie-up between companies administering COVID testing and accepting quarantine for those who don’t belong in our country. It's like we have spent so much but are not really sure where the money goes. Instead of thinking that it will contribute to the improvement of the response, it feels like it is contributing more to those who are greedy for money. Again, like many other things, I could be wrong.

There are a lot of ill-effects resulting from the decision to temporarily suspend entry to those from specific provinces, unless with a negative test result. It's scary to think that it will be part of the new normal. Does that mean it will now be normal to set aside money for swab tests to be able to move around the region? Just one swab already costs thousands. Sure, there are free testing centers but the convenience isn't at all times guaranteed. At the end of the day, when enforcement becomes too loose, people tend to relax themselves.

We need a COVID response face lift. Something realistic to see.

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