BACOLOD CITY–Despite the threat posed by the Delta variant of COVID-19, the Negros Occidental provincial government is considering opening the province to leisure travel under certain conditions, Atty. Rayfrando Diaz, provincial administrator, said on Tuesday.
Diaz said plans to talk with local airline companies about the resumption of regular passenger flights are underway.
He also hinted at a similar plan for ferry operators plying routes to Negros Occidental.
“Of course, we will ensure the safety bubble of the province is kept by asking airlines and ferries to accept only vaccinated passengers,” Diaz added.
Upon arrival in the province, he continued, leisure travelers would still be required to undergo RT-PCR testing and isolation at a quarantine hotel.
“Since the province already has two molecular laboratories, the results will be released within 24 hours,” he explained.
If the traveler is negative for COVID-19, they would be allowed to sightsee around the province; those who test positive, however, will be transferred to a proper quarantine facility.
According to Diaz, the proposal is already becoming more and more feasible especially since the National Inter-Agency Task Force plans to roll out the digital vaccination ID, which would mean fewer restrictions for travelers who are already fully vaccinated.
Still, Diaz advised fully vaccinated people to remain cautious.
“For our part, this is why we need to enforce the RT-PCR test policy for travelers,” he
Earlier this year, the provincial government had also planned a meeting with the three major airline companies serving the province to discuss vaccinated-only flights, but the plan was shelved after several issues surfaced, including that of the new variants of COVID-19 and concerns that the vaccination cards being issued by local government units could easily be faked.
As of August 31, 2021, Negros Occidental has a cumulative running total of 871 active COVID-19 cases, 602 deaths, and 21,440 recoveries. (Eugene Y. Adiong/iNEWS-Bacolod/Negros Bureau)