Singson ‘shields’ Ilocos Sur as Covid-19 cases rise

VIGAN CITY — Prompted by the surge of new COVID-19 cases nationwide and within the province, Ilocos Sur governor Ryan Luis V. Singson issued Executive Order No. 24 series of 2021 on March 23 to “shield” the residents of Ilocos Sur from further spread of the contagious disease.

The EO is a proactive response by the provincial government to keep new infections at bay and prevent overwhelming the limited health facilities and medical workers with more patients than they can effectively manage.

In brief, the travel guidelines presented by the EO restrict residents’ movement in and out of the province to essential travels only, while limiting visitors from the Greater Manila area to essential travels and banning outright all tourists from outside the province.

The EO defines essential travels to: work related, except those which can be done via online platforms; health and emergency frontline services; medical checkups and other health related travels; delivery services; duly authorized humanitarian assistance actors; travel of cadavers; and public utility servicing.

All persons residing in Ilocos Sur are not allowed to go outside the province except for essential and emergency travels and for work. Residents who work outside the province are obliged to limit their movements to essential travel upon returning home.

Travelers from the Greater Manila area are also banned except for essential travels. Passers-by are allowed as long as they strictly comply with the requirements of Section 3 of Executive Order 22, series of 2021.

All persons permitted to enter Ilocos Sur are required to immediately report to the City Health Office or the Rural Health Unit of the destination local government unit (LGU) for surveillance and monitoring.

Tourists from outside Ilocos Sur are banned temporarily; however, persons presently residing in the province are allowed to visit tourist attractions as long as they observe minimum health protocols.

The EO also limits mass gatherings to 30 percent of a venue’s capacity and all participants are required to strictly comply with the “No Face Mask, No Face Shield, No Entry” and other health protocols.

LGUs are further ordered to deploy personnel to monitor places where people congregate including public places such as parks, seashores, beach fronts, picnic spots, streets or alleys turned to public attractions. Moreover, they are encouraged to do mass testing and random testing in populated areas within their jurisdiction.

The EO is effective from March 24 to April 6 and covers the week of Lent at what would have been peak tourist season in the province without the pandemic, bringing in thousands of visitors from Metro Manila. ●