Baguio complies with NIATF, not accepting tourists from NCR plus bubble

24 March 2021 – The city temporarily suspended accepting tourists from the National Capital Region (NCR) and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal from March 22 to April 4, 2021 as part of the prevailing restrictions to help in containing the spread of the Corona Virus Disease (COVID) 2019.

Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong stated that the implementation of the aforesaid restriction will have a significant impact on the city’s tourist arrivals because 70 percent of Baguio visitors come from the said places.

He added that tourists from the NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal – called the “NCR Plus Bubble” – with approved QR Tourists Pass during the restricted period will have to rebook their visit to later dates after April 4, 2021.

However, the local chief executive clarified that the city will still be accepting essential travels from the NCR Plus Bubble, provided that, they possess the required negative swab test or antigen test results and for them to be subjected to the city’s triaging procedures at the Baguio Convention Center as well as registration to the website.

The national Inter-agency Task Force for the management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) issued a ban on non-essential travels from the NCR Plus Bubble following the recent surge in the number of COVID cases in the past several days.

Subsequently, the city also decided to limit the number of tourist arrivals to 3,000 daily and re-imposed the requirement for visitors and frequent travelers to present their negative swab or antigen test results prior to entering Baguio as part of the ongoing measures to contain the surge of COVID cases.

This is to avoid the local health care system from being compromised and frontliners from being overwhelmed and stressed.

While it is true that temporarily suspending the arrival of tourists from the NCR Plus Bubble will have a negative impact to the projected number of tourist arrivals in Baguio, the mayor pointed out that it is still one of the available options to be undertaken to help control the surge in COVID cases as the city’s critical care utilization rate is now in the warning stage.

Last week, there was an instance when Baguio’s tourist arrivals drastically increased to over 6,000 in a single day that caused congestion at the city’s central triage which prompted city officials and health authorities to propose the re-imposition of limiting the number of tourist arrivals daily to avoid similar problems in the future.

On October 1, 2020, the city started accepting tourists from the Ilocos Region under the Ridge to Reef Tourism Bubble before expanding the same to tourists from entire Luzon on October 22, 2020.

The city then started to gradually increase the number of visitors that will be allowed to visit the city daily until it reached as high as over 6,000 in a single day last week that caused city officials to impose control mechanisms.

Mayor Magalong asserted the need to strike a balance between health and economy because people have to get back their jobs and allow the safe resumption of economic activities for them to sustain the living condition of their families. – Dexter A. See