By Jhon Dave Ablat
The Provincial Government of Batanes adopted Executive Order no. 25 series of 2020 stating the guidelines and protocols for all returning stranded local residents in mainland Luzon as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continuously affects the country.
According to the order, only qualified returning residents of Batanes who are exempted from the travel restrictions may be allowed entry to the province.
Authorities further clarified that individuals who are exempted from the said restrictions are health workers, government officials, and frontline personnel, those who are travelling for medical or humanitarian purposes, workers on permitted establishments and those who are providing essential goods, services, and public utilities.
Essential skeleton workforce are allowed to enter Batanes together with the repatriated overseas Filipino workers.
Moreover, locally stranded individuals that includes workers, stranded while in transit, students, Ivatan tourists, and other stranded individuals are also qualified for this program.
The local government, on the other hand, sets the requirements for all who wish to return in the province, including a negative RT-PCR test result from a DOH-accredited COVID-19 testing lab, proof of residency, and travel permit from the LGU of origin.
All returning resident are also expected to waive his or her right to refuse the 14-day quarantine period and will undergo self isolation or remain at government-designated quarantine facility after swabbing for COVID-19 test to limit the possible exposure.
The province will start this program upon the availability of quarantine facilities and enough medical equipment and supplies.
Batanes currently remains as a COVID-free province and still under the general community quarantine.