DILG overturns Bacolod ban on ships from China

THE DEPARTMENT of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has overturned Bacolod City’s ban against all cargo ships coming from China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau. In a letter to Mayor Evelio R. Leonardia, a copy of which was posted on the city’s official social media page, DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said, “At the outset, the Department acknowledges and commends your effort to stay true to your responsibility as the chief executive of the city to protect the health and welfare of your constituents. However… it contradicts the recent issuance of the Department of Health (DoH)” containing guidelines on seaports. DoH Circular-2020-0034 dated February 4 provides that all vessels from China, Hong Kong, and Macau “in the past 14 days must be boarded at the quarantine anchorage” and there should “strictly” be no “embarkation/disembarkation.” Mr. Leonardia issued the ban on March 5 following a meeting with local, health, quarantine, and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) officials to discuss the arrival of M/V Unicorn Bravo, a cargo vessel from Xiamen, China. The ship later tried to dock in Iloilo City, but Mayor Jerry P. Treñas immediately issued a similar ban.

Cebu expands mandatory 14-day quarantine to arrivals from Italy, Iran

PASSENGERS ARRIVING at the Cebu Mactan International Airport who came from or have recently visited Italy or Iran are now mandated to undergo a 14-day quarantine period as part of counter-measures against the coronavirus disease, according to the Cebu provincial government. Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia, in a live-streamed media briefing Monday, announced that she is issuing an order on this policy, which will take effect March 11. “This executive order will be disseminated by the airlines… in order to give due warning to those that may have to be quarantined once they arrive here in Cebu. They (passengers) will have a choice, to go into a 14-day quarantine or take the next flight back… to their point of origin,” Ms. Garcia said. Cebu already has the same policy in place for China, including its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau, and South Korea’s North Gyeongsang province. Meanwhile, Ms. Garcia acknowledged that domestic flights and inter-island sea vessels “are an area of concern,” but assured that the inter-agency provincial task force on the disease, officially called COVID-19, are implementing set protocols.

With the travel restrictions, the Department of Tourism-Western Visayas (DoT-7) said the region is estimated to have incurred at least P2.18 billion in lost revenues from Chinese tourists alone in February. DoT-7 Regional Director Shalimar H. Tamano said they are still evaluating losses from cancelled bookings of other nationalities like Koreans, as well as postponed business trips. In 2019, the region recorded P97 billion in tourism receipts, more than double the P44 billion the previous year. Koreans are the top foreign tourists in the region, followed by the Chinese. — With a report from The Freeman