Model city for pandemic response

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.

“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 Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who together with Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong visited on September 18, various establishments along Session Road—one of Baguio’s busiest streets.

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.

As confirmed by Magalong starting on September 22, Baguio City will be reopened to tourists from Region 1 provinces and limited to 200 visitors per day September 22 as part of the “Ridge and Reef Travel Corridor, which is an initiative of Chief Executives and Tourism Councils in Northern Luzon to cushion the impact of COVID-19 across tourism industries.

Just this month, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Ilocos Norte Gov. Mathew Marcos Manotoc, Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Ilocos Sur 2nd District Rep. Kristine Singson Meehan, Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Luis Singson, Pangasinan Gov. Amado I. Espino III, and La Union Gov. Francisco Emmanuel Ortega, who was represented by Department of Tourism (DOT) Region I Regional Director Joseph Francisco Ortega, at the Baguio Country Club, for the “Ridge and Reef” cooperation.

Hence, sooner or later, Ilocos Norte, among the provinces in Region 1, will be gradually accepting tourists from nearby provinces, including Baguio City.

While, Ilocos Norte is trying to revive its tourism industry, our leaders should put in mind not to compromise the safety and health of the people against the virus.

And they should consider Baguio City as a role model in the strict implementation of health protocols led by City Mayor Magalong, who is known as ‘Contact Tracing Czar’ for COVID-19 cases in the entire country. (with report from National Task Force vs. COVID-19)