Baguio City announced that only new travel requests are temporarily suspended amid the threat of the Omicron variant and the surge in COVID-19 cases in the Philippines.
The provincial government issued this statement on Monday after some people thought that the City of Pinas was placed under lockdown.
The Baguio City government first advised on the suspension of leisure travel on January 2.
“In view of the threat of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, and the expected surge in cases, we are temporarily suspending further requests for leisure travel on Baguio VISITA,” the post read.
The Baguio VIS.I.T.A. (Visitor Information and Travel Assistant) is the province’s online registration platform for travelers that was funded and supported by the Department of Tourism.
The next day, on January 3, Baguio City Tourism Officer Alec Mapalo emphasized that they are “not on lockdown.”
Rather, the city government is only limiting the entry of tourists given the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re not on lockdown! We also did not stop the entry of tourists…they are actually here! For now, we are not only allowing to add more to the current pre-approved travels that already exceeded 5k daily until Jan 8. We’ll set new limits at reduced capacity and will announce such when finalized,” Mapalo said.
On the same day, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said that tourists with “confirmed registrations” via the VISITA platform can enter their city.
The move is to reduce the daily limit of registrants to 4,000 tourists starting January 6.
“Tourists with confirmed registrations can proceed with their travel plans while new requests were temporarily held in abeyance as we prepare to reduce the daily limit for registration to 4,000 with allowed accommodation guest occupancy of up to 70 percent due to the threat of the omicron variant,” Magalong said.
He noted that the temporary suspension was for new applications only, reiterating Mapalo’s statement.
“The temporary suspensions were for new applications only. All other travel plans approved prior to the suspension shall be allowed so as not to unduly prejudice travelers and establishments on preparations that have already been made,” Magalong said.
“We are actively aligning proactive plans across all affected sectors so that travel can still take place in a safe environment with minimized risk,” he added.
On Tuesday, January 4, the Baguio City government released its final guidelines for travel restrictions.
The guidelines said that travel applications approved prior to January 6 can proceed with their plans to enter the city.
Following that date, acceptance of new travel requests would be limited to a maximum of 4,000 per day.
Moreover, accommodations will also be reduced to 70% guest occupancy.
As of January 4, the Department of Health recorded 5,434 additional COVID-19 cases or 26.5% positivity rate, which brings the total to 2,861,119.
There were also 611 recoveries, which brings the total to 2,779,706.
Moreover, there were 18 additional deaths, bringing the total to 51,604.