MANILA—The "slow and safe" reopening of domestic travels is not the reason for the recent spike in new Covid-19 infections in the Philippines, Tourism Chief said confidently.
Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the high number of newly reported COVID-19 cases recently could “never” be blamed for the gradual reopening of domestic tourism.
"Since we've started the slow but sure reopening of tourism destinations, no outbreak of COVID because of tourism, never, not because of tourism," Puyat explained.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) has been aggressive in promoting local tourism.
The tourism industry is one of the sectors that were hit hard by the pandemic crisis, ever since the government strictly regulated domestic and international travel last year of March to combat the health crisis.
However, in late February the government has eased travel protocol across provinces and cities. The new protocol includes the removal of mandatory COVID-19 testing and quarantine for domestic travelers except if they exhibit virus symptoms.
The Department of Interior and Local Government blamed the public's supposed complacency on minimum health protocols that resulted in the surge instead and not the easing of travel protocols. The DILG defended the move, which decision officials said was "backed by Science".
Meanwhile, Puyat reminded the public that, "It is very important, especially for the upcoming Holy Week, for all travelers to understand that a lot of tourist destinations ask for tests before travel."
She also emphasized that being negative for COVID-19 does not mean “doing whatever you want to do.”
"Even if you're negative for COVID, this is not a license for you to party, to do mass gatherings . . . You really have to follow the minimum health and safety protocols," she said.
Wearing face masks and face shields, especially in enclosed areas, and keeping a safe distance from other people especially those they will meet outside from their homes are required to be followed.
Source: ABS-CBN News