BAGUIO CITY March 16 – The local government declared the country’s undisputed Summer Capital under a citywide community quarantine for one month from March 16 to April 15, 2020 to control the influx of travelers coming from outside the city and to prevent the possible spread of the dreaded Corona Virus Disease (COVID) 2019.
Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong issued Executive Order (EO) No. 65,series 2020 that outlined the stringent rules and regulations that will be strictly observed by residents and travelers wanting to come to the city during the quarantine period.
Under the said order, the rules that will be imposed include the fact that only those persons with essential travel purposes, employment or business in the city shall be allowed to enter; per advise of the health department and the City Health Services Office (CHSO), those that are supposed to remain in their homes at all times for being high risk to the effects of COVID include, those over the age of 60 and above, immune compromised persons, pregnant women, minors, and persons with history of pulmonary ailments or disease; movement of all residents and persons sojourning within the city shall be restricted to their respective residences, save when they need to leave for purpose of work or access to basic needs and medication, to seek medical aid and assistance or to attend to urgent and necessary personal errands only; non-essential social gatherings such as those held in bars, recreation centers, public parks, hospitality industry, business, conference and function halls, and other similar venues are disallowed while the order will be in effect; all business establishments are restricted from mass gatherings but not limited to general assemblies, large meetings, conferences, outdoor events that attract large crowds and non-essential work events; religious institutions and religious groups are encourage to defer their mass gatherings or to find alternate methods of practice and worship such as online service, and other means that will not require the assembly of large crowds; government offices shall continue to serve the public, but shall operate in accordance to CSC Memorandum Circular No. 5, series of 2020, which provides for alternative work arrangements and support mechanisms for government workers; employers in the private sectors are encouraged to utilized flexible work arrangements and work from home schedules for their employees and furtherance of guidelines issued by the labor department; the suspension of classes in all levels for public and private schools and other institutions of learning as stated in earlier orders is extended until April 15, 2020 or until assessment by the COVID inter-agency task force, technical-vocational institutions, ESL schools, review centers will also be covered; public transport within the city shall not be hindered but must operate in compliance with prescribed sectoral guidelines on social distancing and community quarantine and cargo and supply deliveries to and from the city shall not be hindered, subject to the observance of strict sanitation methods and practices.
The CHSO with the assistance of the Baguio City Police (BCPO) and Naval and Army reserve commands shall maintain checkpoint stations on major entry points to Baguio City until April 15, 2020 or until further assessment of the COVID task force.
The order stated that all persons entering the city on essential travel or functions must present proof of residency, employment, or necessity of business in the city; submit themselves to mandatory temperature screening, which shall be made available in all main access points in and out of the city and that persons who refuse to submit themselves to temperature screening shall not be allowed to enter the city; those persons who will register a body temperature of 37.6 degrees Celsius and above after undergoing validation test shall be directed to immediately report to the nearest government hospital for further examination or isolation if necessary; upon arrival at checkpoint, persons entering the city must accomplish and submit health declaration forms where they shall provide their names, addresses, contact numbers, purpose of entry to the city, and other information and those travelling by bus must also register their bus name, bus plate number and seat number so as to ensure efficient contact tracing if necessary.
The order stipulated that any information collated in the checkpoints are only for the purpose of creating an organized and efficient method for contact tracing in cases of persons who are either under investigation, under monitoring or who shall be placed under treatment for COVID and to formulate immediate and efficient disease response and surveillance mechanisms.
To promote the practice of social distancing, city facilities such Burnham Children’s Park, Dominican Hill and Nature Park, Mines View Park, Wright Park, Baguio Convention Center, Baguio Botanical Garden, Baguio City public library and other similar public places where people may converge for non-essential gatherings will be closed and that all other government facilities and offices, and their attached bureaus of annexes shall remain open and shall operate pursuant to existing rules and regulations.
For the duration of the quarantine, bars, KTVs, cocktail lounges, and other similar establishments, theater halls and movie houses, schools, review centers, tutorial centers and other institutions of learning, basketball courts, badminton courts, billiard halls, small town lottery, bingo halls, gyms, swimming pools and other similar recreation centers and spas, salons, massage parlors, and other similar establishments will remain closed
On the other hand, the establishments that will be allowed limited operations are groceries, stores, markets, supermarkets, and 24/7 convenient stores,; pharmacies, drug stores and medical supply stores; banks, and other similar financial institutions; general merchandise, retail, and hardware stores; pawnshops; internet shops; medical clinics, diagnostic centers, medical laboratories and dental clinics; funeral homes; hotels, condotels, motels, dormitories, and transient houses; receiving offices for utilities and restaurants and eateries, cafes, coffee shops and other similar establishments.
The establishments that are allowed to remain open on limited operations shall exercise utmost hygiene and sanitations and shall enforce strict social distancing, including the use of face masks and other such advisories prescribed by the health department and CHSO.
In addition the curfew for minors pursuant of Ordinance No. 23, series of 2018, a curfew for all persons in the city shall be implemented from 10 pm to 4 am during the duration of the order.
The order added that business establishments and offices are expected to give full and faithful compliance with the rules on price freeze and that their failure to comply with will be used as a ground for revocation of their business permits and that owners of stores, markets, supermarkets, groceries, and other similar retailers of basic goods among others are reminded to comply with the advisory of concerned government agencies on price control for basic commodities under a state of public health emergency.
By Dexter A. See