Park-goers can now visit three popular sites in the historic Walled City of Intramuros and Rizal Park in Manila starting Thursday, Sept. 16, as they reopen their doors to the public but at a limited capacity and shortened operating hours.
Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat made the announcement on Wednesday, Sept. 15 after the government’s pandemic task force has allowed outdoor tourism attractions under a new COVID-19 alert level system in Metro Manila.
Rizal Park will be open from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. with a maximum capacity of 500 visitors at any given time.
The DOT advised visitors to download the StaySafe app for faster entry into the park premises, while manual contact tracing forms will still be available at entrances for those without access to mobile phones.
Three sites in Intramuros will also resume operations namely Fort Santiago, which will accommodate only 150 visitors; Baluarte De San Diego with a capacity of 80 visitors; and Plaza San Luis.
Here is the operating schedule of the Intramuros spots that will reopen beginning Wednesday:
• Fort Santiago — 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Monday-Friday), 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday)
• Baluarte de San Diego — 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; P75 entrance fee for regular visitors, P50 for seniors, students, and PWDs
• Plaza San Luis — 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
As the National Capital Region (NCR) will be placed under Alert Level 4 or the second highest classification in the new lockdown scheme from Sept. 16 to 30, Puyat said those below 18 and above 65 of age will still not be allowed to visit cultural and historical sites.
“The reopening of Fort Santiago, Baluarte San Diego, and Plaza San Luis will allow visitors to again experience 2020’s Asia and World’s leading tourist attraction as recognized by the World Travel Awards,” Puyat said
“But we continuously urge our tourists to strictly adhere to the health and safety protocols to sustain the resumption of tourism in the country,” the tourism chief noted.
To encourage more NCR residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the DOT through the Intramuros Administration will set up an express lane for fully vaccinated individuals who wish to visit Fort Santiago and Baluarte San Diego.
By using the express lane, fully vaccinated visitors are allowed to accomplish the mandatory contact tracing form when inside the sites and will only need to present it to security personnel before exit.
Meanwhile, regardless of vaccination status, all visitors shall undergo mandatory temperature checks at the sites’ entrance and are required to strictly follow minimum health standards such as wearing masks and face shields, proper physical distancing, and frequent washing or disinfection of hands.
The DOT has also been promoting the use of its tourist sites to speed up the government’s vaccination efforts such as its partnership with the City of Manila to establish a drive-thru vaccination facility at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park.
As an added assurance to visitors, the DOT prioritized the vaccination of tourism workers and have so far fully vaccinated 99 percent of workers in the Intramuros Administration including outsourced security and janitorial workers, while 96 percent of all Rizal Park personnel have completed their shots.
“We are reminding everyone to strictly follow the health and safety protocols when visiting Rizal Park, Intramuros, and other tourist sites and destinations that have reopened, and get vaccinated when the opportunity comes,” Puyat said.
“By doing so, not only can you protect yourself, but you are also keeping the workers who rely on tourism safe from the virus, too,” she added.