Alert Level 2 in NCR to help tourism industry bounce back as Christmas nears

Published November 6, 2021, 1:35 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

More families, including those with kids and seniors, will now be able to enjoy tourist destinations in the country with the easing of restrictions in Metro Manila after the capital region was placed under Alert Level 2 until Nov. 21.

Kids swim in Boracay Island when the country’s most famous beach destination reopened to local tourists in October 2020. (Tara Yap)

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat welcomed this “encouraging development” from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, noting that it will provide greater mobility to the public in time with the holiday season.

“We thank our colleagues in the IATF for hearing the plea of our stakeholders to put the NCR under Alert Level 2. The eased travel restrictions under this alert level will greatly help tourism businesses bounce back and maximize the opportunities brought by the holiday season,” Puyat said in a statement.

“We expect more Filipinos–especially families with children and elderly–to be able to enjoy our tourist destinations while following minimum health and safety protocols,” she added.

Travel under Alert Level 2

Based on IATF guidelines, interzonal and intrazonal travel shall be allowed in areas under Alert Level 2, subject to reasonable restrictions by the local government units (LGUs).

Indoor venues are allowed to accept a maximum of 50 percent capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and those below 18, even if unvaccinated, while outdoor venues are allowed to accommodate up to 70 percent of their capacity.

The same restrictions would also be applied on venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) and social events; tourist attractions such as museums, galleries, exhibits, parks, plazas, public gardens, scenic viewpoints; and amusement parks or theme parks.

COVID test for unvaccinated travelers

Meanwhile, Puyat reminded adult hotel guests and leisure travelers who are not yet fully vaccinated against COVID-19 that they may still be required to take an RT-PCR test not more than 48 hours before check-in or arrival.

Travelers who would need to undergo the COVID-19 test were encouraged to avail of the ongoing subsidy program of the DOT through its Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC). Under the program, local tourists may avail of a free RT-PCR test with a cap of 350 approved applicants per day.

The guidelines likewise stated that all workers and employees of these establishments must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and minimum public health standards are strictly maintained before they can operate.

The IATF approved on Thursday, Nov. 4, the de-escalation of the National Capital Region (NCR) from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2 from Nov. 5 to Nov. 21.

This is in connection with the alert level system that is being piloted by the national government in the NCR as a strategy to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Alert Level 2 refers to areas wherein case transmission is low and decreasing, healthcare utilization is low, or case counts are low and decreasing, but total bed utilization rate and intensive unit utilization rate is increasing.