THE tourist hubs located in Cebu City are now allowed to go on business at 50 percent operating capacity.
Mayor Edgardo Labella has given the tourism sector the green light to reopen as the city is now under the more relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) until the end of September.
Under the Executive Order 89 issued by Labella on Aug. 31, 2020, the industries under Category 4 are now allowed to open—tourist spots and travel agencies; tour operators and reservation service providers; live events (subject to the Department of Tourism guidelines) and full body massage parlors; tattoo and body piercing shops; driving schools and language, dance, acting and voice training centers; libraries, archives, museums and cultural centers.
Tourist destinations in the city were forced to close temporarily last March because of the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Even some activities that promote the tourism and culture of Cebu were pushed to go online such as the Gabii sa Kabilin, an annual cultural event.
Cebu City Tourism Commission chairperson Jocelyn Pesquera said the opening of the tourism sites in the city is a good development as the Tourism Month is observed every September.
The Tourism Commission will conduct its online launch of the Tourism Month on Friday, Sept. 4.
For this year’s Tourism Month, the commission aims to make the tourism sector adapt to the new normal and help the tourism economy bounce back.
“To encourage all sectors and tourism stakeholders of Cebu City to adopt the new normal, invent and create new initiatives to help the tourism economy back in shape,” read the commission’s objective.
Cebu City Attorney Rey Gealon, the mayor’s spokesperson, said the management and owners of tourist spots need to strictly implement the health measures such as observing social distancing and wearing masks.
Gealon said the 50 percent operating capacity must be followed to avoid any mass gathering.
In an online presser on Sept. 2, Gealon said the Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO) has started inspecting the tourist destinations in the city to ensure that the destinations operate only up to 50 percent of their capacity.
Some of Cebu City’s popular tourist spots include the Sirao Garden in Barangay Sirao, Tops Lookout in Barangay Busay and Fort San Pedro.
As the Covid-19 transmission rate outside Cebu City households has risen to 65.27 percent, Labella doubled down on his decision to retain the use of quarantine passes and other minimum health measures even if the city is now on MGCQ status.
The local executive said the risk of contracting Covid-19 is still high.
So the City Government continues to implement quarantine policies such as the use of the QR-coded quarantine passes, and enforcement of the curfew and stay-at-home order to limit the mobility of the public.
Gealon urged residents to strictly observe health protocol such as wearing masks and observing at least a one-meter distance from other people.
Last Aug. 30, two days before Cebu City shifted to MGCQ, Emergency Operations Center (EOC) deputy chief implementer City Councilor Joel Garganera said the outside transmission rate for Cebu City was only 40 percent, while the household transmission rate was at 34.72 percent.
As for the 65.27 percent transmission rate outside households, Gealon said the data was based on the findings of the EOC on the new cases from Aug. 18 to 31. During this period, Cebu City was still under general community quarantine (GCQ).
The Department of Health 7 reported 264 new Covid-19 cases in Cebu City from Aug. 18 to 31.
Gealon said outside transmission means contracting Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, outside the household.
This includes getting the virus from markets, commercial establishments and other public areas where a number of people gather.
To address this concern, Garganera has met with barangay captains, especially those who lead villages with public markets.
However, most barangays had already implemented health guidelines for the market operations prior to the meeting.
Some of the measures include allowing limited stalls inside the market, implementing a lone entrance and exit, and employing barangay tanods to ensure social distancing is observed and the customers are wearing masks.
Garganera said the EOC, through the BPLO, makes sure the establishments are implementing strict health protocols.
Gealon assured the public that the markets, especially the Carbon Public Market, the largest market in the city, are disinfected regularly.
He reminds village officials to strictly monitor those who are in home quarantine, saying the mayor mandates them to “be responsible in their respective barangays.”
On the first day of the MGCQ in Cebu City on Sept. 1, only 18 quarantine violators were caught by the Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification, and Enhancement (Probe) team.
As of 2 p.m., Sept. 2, Probe chief Raquel Arce said 31 violators had been caught.
Arce said most of the violations committed were the breach of the quarantine pass policy. She said some went out though it was not their schedule, while others carried no quarantine passes at all.
MGCQ in Talisay City
In Talisay City, Mayor Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. has allowed his constituents to go to the market thrice a week as the city is now on MGCQ. However, Talisaynons must still carry their quarantine passes.
They can only get out if their barangays are scheduled for the market day.
When the city was still under GCQ, Gullas allowed the residents to go out only twice a week.
No one is allowed to go out every Sunday as this is the day for citywide disinfection.
The curfew in Talisay City starts at 10 p.m. and ends at 5 a.m. This does not apply to frontliners and other exempted workers.
Ill city residents are required to stay home round-the-clock. (JJL & ANV / KAL)