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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Cebu lifts all health rules for arriving visitors

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In an apparent bid to pump Cebu’s tourism industry, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has lifted all health protocols for arriving visitors, including the swab test.

Garcia on Friday signed Executive Order 43 that lays down the new guidelines to take effect starting November 5 governing new arrivals.

“All travelers, vaccinated or unvaccinated, need only present their ticket and passport or other valid identification card upon check-in.

Any other requirement, such as Electronic Arrival Cards, shall only be presented upon arrival in Cebu,” the EO stated.

Fully-vaccinated travelers are not required to present negative COVID-19 test results such as RT-PCR or Antigen.

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The unvaccinated ones are advised to take a Rapid Antigen Test within twenty-four (24) hours before departing for Cebu.

The Cebu International Airport on Mactan Island will provide a Rapid Antigen Test for those unable to do so.

The governor also reiterated that wearing face of mask is optional for all Cebu visitors.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) earlier issued guidelines on the optional wearing of face masks in workplaces following President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s issuance of Executive Order No. 7 easing mask mandates for both indoor and outdoor settings.

The Labor Department said the wearing of face masks will remain mandatory in the following workplaces: healthcare facilities, including, but not limited to, clinics, hospitals, laboratories, nursing homes, and dialysis clinics; medical transport vehicles, such as ambulance and paramedic rescue vehicles; and public transportation by land, air, or sea.

The DOLE also encouraged the elderly, as well as the immunocompromised, unvaccinated, and symptomatic individuals, individuals with comorbidities, and pregnant women to continue wearing face masks.

“Employers and their workers have a shared responsibility to ensure safe and healthful working conditions in accordance with the provisions of the Labor Code of the Philippines, as amended, Republic Act No. 11058, and minimum public health standards,” the DOLE advisory read.

Employers, however, may still implement a policy requiring the wearing of face masks if they wish to do so, provided they consider “among others, the hazards and risks (e.g., enclosed space and poor ventilation), industry requirements (e.g., food safety), and incidence of other communicable diseases (e.g., flu and tuberculosis), including measures to address non-compliance thereto pursuant to the existing company policy, rules, and regulations.”

For its part, the Department of Health said the responsibility of keeping workers safe from COVID-19 infection lies heavily on employers.

DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said now that optional masking has become a national policy, it all boils down to an individual’s informed decision on whether or not to wear a face mask in the workplace.

“For company owners, our employees are our responsibility. You should determine whether or not your company and its employees could use masks voluntarily,” she said.

“If the company thinks it is better to mask up, we can give such a recommendation or advice. For example, if you went to an area with lots of people, somewhere that has poor ventilation, use a mask,” Vergeire added.

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