By Minverva BC Newman
CEBU CITY – The Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) and GMR MEGAWIDE Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) are all set to resume operations with enhanced safety measures in Terminals 1 and 2.
GMCAC Chief Executive Advisor Andrew Acquaah-Harrison said that the operating procedures and overall airport environment at MCIA have been modified for the so-called new normal.
Airport staff will be re-trained in the implementation of these operating procedures based on the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
“As we experience a change to how we influence passenger behavior when using the airport, we will keenly observe how the passengers will react to the new environment and make adjustments as necessary. We ask the passengers and staff for their cooperation and understanding as we implement these new measures for their well-being and safety,” Harrison added.
Passengers and airport staff are directed to strictly observe the following health and safety measures while inside MCIA:
- Strictly adhere to social distancing protocols and follow the visual markers placed in different locations. Always stay in the right lane when walking.
- Mandatory wearing of face masks and any preferred additional personal protective equipment (PPEs) within the airport vicinity and inside the terminals.
- Comply with body temperature checks conducted by the security personnel at all airport entry points.
- Regularly sanitize hands and disinfect shoes using provided hand sanitizers and footbaths at terminal entry locations.
- Limit send-off parties at the departure area to one companion only regardless of the number of passengers traveling together
- Provide correct information when filling out health declaration forms.
- Read COVID-19 health information materials posted in strategic locations of the terminal.
- Listen to PA announcements for health and safety reminders.
MCIAA and GMCAC also bared that MCIA will be the first airport in the country to be equipped with a dedicated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing laboratory with state-of-the-art facilities that can process about 900 swab samples per day, increasing to 2,000 per day for the benefit of arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), seafarers, and locally stranded individuals.
Eventually, the process will be extended to outbound international passengers requiring a COVID-19 test certificate for entry to other countries, GMCAC added.
MCIAA general manager Steve Dicdican said that testing booths will be set up at T2 Arrival Reclaim with swab sampling taking a maximum of five minutes, after which OFW’s and seafarers will be transferred to designated quarantine facilities by DOH and LGU Officials.
Once swab samples are taken, Dicdican said the OFWs and seafarers will be billeted in hotels designated as quarantine facilities by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) while waiting for their test results.
Test results will be available on-line from DOH after 24-hours. This initiative will augment the government’s testing capacity and fast track the processing of arriving OFWs and seafarers and decongest Manila, Dicdican added.
It will help alleviate the plight of OFWs and Seafarers who desperately want to return to the Visayas and Mindanao but are stranded in quarantine centers in Luzon while waiting for their COVID-19 test results Dicdican said.
Harrison believed that this measure will provide an important capacity boost to DOH, and, at the same time, help kick-start the local economy through the jobs that these arriving OFWs and seafarers create in the hotels, transportation and catering sectors in the immediate term.
It also paves the way for international arrivals to resume as the confidence to travel to Cebu from the tourists and foreigners starts to build up, Harrison added.
“As part of Cebu’s tourism ecosystem, we need to ensure we play our part in helping the tourism sector recover. Many jobs for Cebuanos are highly dependent on the safe but eventual rebound of the tourism sector,” Harrison noted.