By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Despite the threat posed by the Delta variant of COVID-19, Negros Occidental’s provincial administrator, Atty. Rayfrando Diaz, said they are still considering opening the province to leisure travel, although with some conditions to ensure the “safety bubble” of the province remains.
According to Diaz, they are planning to talk with local airline companies in order to resume regular passenger flights. He also hinted of a similar plan for ferry operators plying routes to Negros Occidental.
However, Diaz said one of the conditions they are going to forward is for the regular flights or sea trips to only accept vaccinated individuals.
Upon arrival in the province, leisure travelers will still be required to undergo RT-PCR testing and undergo isolation at a quarantine hotel, and since the province already has two molecular laboratories, Diaz said the results will be released within 24 hours.
If the traveler is negative for COVID-19, they may now be allowed to roam around the province, while those who test positive will be transferred to a proper quarantine facility.
The proposal is also becoming more feasible especially as the National Inter-Agency Task Force plans to roll-out the digital vaccination ID, which would enable lesser restrictions for travelers who are already fully vaccinated.
“Subong pa lang gani, may talks na kami na maka-accommodate sang ‘vaccinated flights’ nga ang tanan nga pasahero nabakunahan na, barato ang plete, kag kamo lang gid nga nabakunahan ang maka-sakay, so ang risk level indi na taas, pero of course ara gyapon ang risk,” Diaz explained.
He said even though vaccinated, people should still remain cautious and is the reason why they still need to enforce the RT-PCR test policy for travelers.
Earlier this year, the provincial government also planned a meeting with the three major airline companies serving the province for vaccinated-only flights, but the plan was initially shelved after several issues surfaced such as the new variants of COVID-19 and concerns that the vaccination cards being issued by local government units can easily be faked./DGB, WDJ