Members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 cited Baguio City’s pandemic response as it gradually resumes economic activities.
National Action Plan Against COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer and Testing Czar Vince Dizon, Contact Tracing Czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque visited on Friday, September 18, various establishments along Session Road—one of Baguio’s busiest streets.
“I think the city is becoming a model on how to reopen the [different] industries. Naipapakita ng Baguio na hindi naman dapat isakripisyo ang ekonomiya para sa kalusugan. Unti-unti po ang pagbubukas ng mga establisimiyento dito. At nakikita ninyo, ang mga establisimiyento ay may mga plastic na shields at sumusunod po [ang mga tao] sa minimum health standards tulad ng pagsusuot ng face mask, face shield, tamang paghuhugas ng kamay at social distancing,” said Roque.
Temperature checks at entrances and socially-distanced queueing systems are some of the standard protocols inside the restaurants and shops along Session Road. There are also markings on the sidewalks to guide people of a one-way walking system to maintain physical distancing and avoid virus transmission.
Magalong confirmed that starting on September 22, Baguio City will be reopened to tourists from Region 1 provinces and limited to 200 visitors per day. Only guided tours will be allowed for the meantime. Visitors also need to register via the Baguio local government website and undergo triage before going to their respective destinations within the city.
“We would like to start slow, experience it, learn from it, manage it, and then gradually increase it,” Magalong explained on limiting the number of tourists to be accommodated.
“We will never compromise the safety and health of our constituents against the virus. Kaya nga gradual and calibrated [ang pag-reopen ng economy] and we have already in place, ‘yung systems. We’re very transparent; we keep on communicating these systems to the public para aware sila that we have a very comprehensive system to ensure that the people of Baguio will be safe.”
Dizon lauded the city’s strict implementation of health protocols as he emphasized the need to balance the mitigation of COVID-19 while people slowly return to their normal lives.
“Nagpapasalamat po tayo kay Mayor Magalong dahil sa mga ginagawa niya dito sa Baguio. Makikita natin na talagang modelo itong Baguio para mapakita sa buong Pilipinas na kaya nating i-manage ang COVID-19 at paunti-unting bumalik sa normal na pamumuhay, pero pamumuhay na pag-iingat para hindi tayo mahawa at hindi tayo makahawa sa ating mga kababayan,” he said.
The officials also inspected the three-day swabbing operations at the Baguio Convention Center which has the capacity to test up to 1,000 individuals per day. Baguio City is ramping up its testing efforts as part of its strengthened COVID-19 response based on the national strategy to Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, and Reintegrate.
Also present at the event were Bureau of Fire Protection Chief Jose Embang, John Hay Management Corporation President and CEO Allan Garcia and Angkas CEO George Royeca.