MANILA, Philippines — Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia on Monday issued an executive order easing the travel restrictions for travelers to the province on tourism-related activities.
In Executive Order No. 12, Series of 2021, Garcia said the province of Cebu will push through with its reopening and will time longer require RT-PCR swab testing before entry.
“Now, therefore, I Gwendolyn F. Garcia, Governor of the Province of Cebu by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, hereby order that persons traveling to the Province of Cebu to engage in tourism-related activities shall be allowed entry thereof, provided that they comply with the following:
Mayors of municipalities and component cities (Bogo, Carcar, Danao, Naga, Talisay and Toledo) are also urged to follow the directive and coordinate with the office of the governor.
Garcia said this order will take effect immediately.
Before this directive, passengers arriving at the Mactan Cebu International Airport were required to take an RT-PCR swab test on the fifth day from the arrival date at the airport.
Passengers are also asked to submit health declaration forms, immigration arrival cards and undergo thermal scanners.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has yet to respond to Philstar.com's request for comment on Cebu's new directive.
The Department of Tourism early this month said it is within the the local government units' purview "to determine the type of test deemed best to keep their communities and borders safe."
In a press briefing last Friday, Garcia said she wants to reopen tourism in the province because of the lingering economic impact brought by the COVID-19 lockdowns.
“I could no longer bear the closed resorts, the desperate look in our people’s faces, the tragic stories that I listen to, some families would make do with just once a day meal,” Garcia said.
She also cited that she’s not only talking about low-income residents of the city, adding middle-income families have been selling off their properties.
“And so, when I said we need to reopen Cebu tourism, from the usual suspects came all criticisms that I value money over life… My answer to that is what good would life be if there’s nothing more to eat?” the governor said.
Garcia furthered that of the 400 deaths recent deaths in Cebu, only 121 are COVID-19 related. Of which, she said, 117 died in the hospital.
She also said COVID-19 is a “highly-incentivized disease,” citing that there are more cases of tuberculosis “which has been longer around than COVID-19.”
“With these numbers I decided that we need to focus on our economy that has been devastated by the restrictions of COVID-19,” she said.
As of February 21, Cebu Province recorded a total of 33,345 cases. Of which, 26,167 have recovered while the death toll stands at 1,461.
The province has 400 new cases bringing the total of number of active cases to 5,717.
Cebu City has the highest number of total confirmed cases with 16,282 recorded infected.