Baguio City News: Safety Protocols To Observe
As the rest of the country creates its localized guidelines based on COVID-19's spread, Baguio City’s Local Government decided to shift to the stricter General Community Quarantine (GCQ) in the first few days of February. The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) likewise had shifted to GCQ due to a recent surge of cases.
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong emphasized the need to uphold IATF guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, he acknowledged that there needed to be more clarifications from the IATF, as tourism had been allowed in some areas under GCQ.
Limited Tourism In Baguio City
As of February 9, Baguio City hotels and other accommodation establishments have been allowed to accommodate some leisure tourists despite being under GCQ. This is under the provision that proper health and safety protocols for distancing and contact tracing were followed, to minimize potential infection while allowing economic activity through tourism.
Enforcement of these rules has been patchy, with a recent notorious incident going viral on social media for failing to enforce distancing and limited numbers in a social gathering at the birthday party of eventologist Tim Yap. While the responsible parties paid fines for breaking the rules, it begs the question of how strictly the local government unit can act to protect its citizens against the recklessness of visitors – especially as Mayor Magalong himself had appeared, ostensibly to help promote tourism as an honored guest from the city.
Choosing Between The City’s Economy And Its Public Health
Undoubtedly, regulations still need to find the right balance between allowing enough commercial activities and restricting contact amongst the public. With more cases of the UK strain of the coronavirus appearing in Mountain Province, many have speculated on social media that there may already be cases of this more infectious strain in Baguio City.
This only provides more reasons to close borders and be vigilant about areas where lots of people can gather. Until an official report confirms its presence within the city and what steps can be taken to control it, Baguio City may well continue to try its best to remain as close to IATF guidelines for GCQ provinces and cities as it can to reduce the chances of spreading the disease further.
With Mayor Magalong still holding on to his position as the COVID-19 tracing czar despite the controversy over the birthday superspreader event, it may be an opportunity to revisit how the city has managed its own infection statistics. It is also a chance to look at how viable it would be to open other establishments such as gyms, churches, and salons, where many people will come into contact and potentially spread the disease.
Baguio City could potentially choose to adhere to the stricter guidelines that all other areas under GCQ are expected to follow, instead of using their concession for some leisure tourism, as this will go a long way towards lowering the active cases and preventing new strains from entering the city and endangering its population. Until then, people are encouraged to minimize contact, wear proper safety gear, and constantly wash their hands.