Gov. Arthur Yap has issued an executive order providing for the guidelines on the implementation of the tourist bubble and setting the tone of Bohol’s gradual tourism opening in extraordinary time. Executive Order (EO) No. 53 signals the calculated and cautious opening of tourism in the province under the new normal forced by COVID-19 pandemic.
Signed by the governor on Friday, the order formalizes and puts into effect the implementing rules and guidelines (IRR)of the new Bohol New Normal Tourism Industry Ordinance of 2020. Both the ordinance, which is a provincial law, and its IRR were crafted in consultation with the different government agencies, tourism industry stakeholders, and medical and health sector, among others.
Beginning today, Bohol will accept tourists for meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition (MICE) and events like wedding, reunion, anniversary, birthday and similar celebrations with at least six attendees from outside the province.Age constraint for this purpose is relaxed, but restriction to persons with co-morbidities remains enforced. All MICEs and events must be coordinated with the Bohol Tourism Office (BTO).
Tourists need to have confirmed bookings with the accommodation establishments located on Panglao island, which consists of the towns of Panglao and Dauis. Being yet at calibrated and careful tourism reopening, Panglao and Dauis are defined as “bubbles within a bubble,” the latter referring to Bohol as the island-province.
The establishment shall have a certificate of authority to operate (CAO) from the Department of Tourism (DOT) or an Ultimate Bohol Experience (UBE) seal from the Provincial Government of Bohol (PGBh). Only tourists who have negative RT-PCR test results from laboratories accredited by the Departmen of Health (DOH) not earlier than 72 hours prior to their date of travel to Bohol shall be allowed entry. They are strongly advised to observe strict quarantine immediately after undergoing RT-PCR test until the date of travel to Bohol. Tourists who have cancelled bookings or last-minute changes in flight schedules may opt to be swabbed upon arrival in Bohol at their own expense.
However, they need to fill up and sign an undertaking stating their willingness to undergo strict hotel quarantine until their negative RT-PCR test results are released. For tourists who are staying for more than five days, they must undergo repeat RT-PCR test on their fifth day of stay. Locals may join the MICEs and events, provided, however, that after the activity they will be quarantined for five days and swabbed for testing. They can go home, but only once their negative results are released.
Trips outside the accommodation establishments may only be done thru the DOT-accredited travel and tour operators and only to sites having UBE seal. The list of tourism service providers with DOT accreditation and establishments granted the UBE seal is posted on Bohol tourism website tourism.bohol.gov.ph.
Tourists must register on the Bohol Tourist Registration portal also via tourism.bohol.gov.ph. Registered tourists will be sent necessary information and instructions through their respective emails. A personal quick response (QR) code will be assigned to each registered tourist to serve as his/her electronic visitor’s ID. It is strictly mandated that there shall be no walk-in tourists. All registered tourists must properly document their trips.
All tourists must strictly follow the health protocol at all times like wearing of face mask, frequent handwashing/sanitizing of hands, and physical distancing. They must present copies of their negative test results upon check-in or signed undertakings to take the RT-PCR test upon arrival and undergo strict quarantine until their negative test results are issued.
The unique QR code given to each tourist, regardless of age, after the online registration shall be scanned upon arrival at the Bohol Panglao International Airport or any port of entry. Tourists must always carry the electronic copies of their documents. The QR codes are scanned in all entrances and exits of establishments and sites.
Upon arrival in Bohol, all tourists shall be picked up by the transport service units of the accommodation establisments where they will stay. They can also be fetched by their pre-booked tourist transport services from the list of accredited providers, after which they shall be immeditely brought to their accommodation establishmemts. Stopovers from the port/airport to accommodation establishments are not allowed. Tourists are also not allowed to meet with friends, relatives or acquaintances outside of the tourist bubble.
ALSO TO BE OBSERVED
Accommodation establishments, restaurants, dive centers, sites, attractions, tourist transport, event venues and other tourism-related establishments must observe the following:
* Strictly implement all health and safety protocols as stated in the national and local government regulations;
* Require all tourists to present their QR codes for scanning at the entrance and exit using the contact tracing application provided by the PGBh;
* Strictly implement crowd control measures to ensure that physical distancing is followed at all times; and
* Prepare an incident management plan and isolation area for guests who may exhibit symptoms during their stay.
FOR TOURS, OPERATORS, GUIDES AND SITES
Only the DOT-accredited and UBE-certified tour operators are allowed to handle tours and must book through the central reservation system for sites. Tour operators must only engage the services of DOT-accredited tourist transport providers, tour guides and LGU-certified community guides in specific sites. Stops are only allowed in designated areas and the tour operators must strictly follow the pre-set itinerary and not deviate from the same. Tour operators must book their tours through the reservation system provided by the PGBh. They must submit to the BTO the list of all tour itineraries offered to guests.
All the staff members of accommodation establishments and tourism service providers shall strictly comply with the existing guidelines issued by the DOT, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Labor and Employment and PGBh.
The PGBh Telephone and Radio System Integrated Emergency Response (TaRSIER 117) and Provincial Health Office-Operations Center (PHO-OpCen) are tasked to form a tourist emergency response team to respond to medical emergencies. In the event that a guest will exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, he/she will immediately be isolated and has to undergo RT-PCR test. The tour guide/operator must contact the medical response team for further assessment and needed care.
The BTO shall be tasked in the monitoring of the implementation of the Bohol bubble protocols. The office may enlist the support and assistance of government agencies and other concerned bodies to ensure the strict inplementation of the executive order. Violations of the order are penalized under existing applicable laws and ordinances. As mandated, a multi-agency-sector technical working group chaired by Provincial Board Member Jade Bautista formulated the IRR for the new normal tourism ordinance of the province. Bautista chairs the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Committee on Tourism and is the principal author of the ordinance.
Meanwhile, the governor also issued EO No. 52 extending Bohol’s modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status until midnight of January 31, 2021. The order carries certain amendments to EO No. 33, which provides for the guidelines on MGCQ. The amendments include the lifting of the province-wide general curfew from 9 pm to 5 am.Each LGU has the sound discretion to set its curfew time if it deems necessary. The limitations of movement under the MGCQ are still in accord with the national Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) guidelines issued on October 15 this year. (Ven rebo Arigo)