October 3, 2023

The city government might allow non-essential travels to Baguio if the downtrend in Covid-19 cases continues.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the city might open its borders to tourists starting Oct. 25, but only fully vaccinated travelers will be allowed entry to the city.

“We will not accept unvaccinated individuals, even if they are on essential travel or authorized persons outside of residence,” he said.

The mayor said the city has considered allowing non-essential trips as the Covid-19 cases in the city in the last two weeks showed a significant decrease.

“If we see the trend to continue, then we will allow non-essential travels, but only for fully vaccinated people,” he said.

As of Oct. 20, the city has 1,210 active cases, of which 103 are new cases and four deaths. Since Oct. 10, the city has been logging more than 100 cases.

In September, active cases averaged to more than 4,000, of which 200 to 300 per day were new cases.

Magalong is hopeful the number of cases in the coming weeks will remain on the downtrend.

He added from Sept. 22 to Oct. 12, there has been a continuous decline in the reproduction number of Covid-19 cases, which is below 1.0.

The reproduction number is the average number of people an infected individual can pass the virus that causes the Covid-19 infection.

The occupancy rate of the city’s isolation facilities has also been going down.

As of Oct. 21, the occupancy rate went down to 39.57 percent from the 45.76 percent on Oct. 18.

In terms of hospital care utilization rate, the city recorded an 82.34 percent bed utilization rate and 73.21 percent mechanical ventilator utilization rate as of Oct. 18.

Magalong said tourists who intend to visit Baguio when the city opens its borders on Oct. 25 still need to register in the visitabaguio.com.ph.

He said the registration, whether tourists, returning residents, and those on essential travel, must be done 24 hours before the trip to avoid the buildup of vehicles at the checkpoints, and to ensure they will not be prevented entry.

“There are travelers who only register when they are at the borders. This time, the system will reject requests for travel to the city that are made in less than 24 hours,” Magalong said.

Magalong said one of the considerations of the city in easing up on travel restrictions is to help local establishments gradually recover from the economic impacts of the Covid-19.

“We want to support our local businessmen who said they have been sustaining their operations for the sake of their employees. Their efforts are noble and we want to also help them,” he said. – Jane B. Cadalig