SUBIC BAY FREE PORT – The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) on Monday imposed stricter border controls, requiring all people entering the Subic Bay free port to present vaccination cards to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the region .
SBMA President and Trustee Wilma T. Eisma said tougher action was taken after the Interagency Working Group for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) placed the city of Olongapo, as well as Zambales, Bataan and 11 other regions of the country. , below Alert Level 3 at the end of last week.
Under the new directives, the SBMA authorizes inter-zonal and intra-zonal movements in Subic only on presentation of a vaccination certificate indicating the completed doses.
Unvaccinated people are expected to test negative on reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests done 24 hours before arriving in Subic, Eisma said.
Subic, which did not register any cases of Covid-19 among its residents until Christmas Day, had reported a total of 36 active cases just after the holidays.
“The rate of increase – 36 cases in just two weeks – is quite alarming, so in accordance with IATF resolutions, we have put in place tighter border controls and banned certain activities that could further spread the virus,” Eisma said in a media interview.
âI have ordered our law enforcement officers to thoroughly check the vaccination cards at the gates, as we cannot afford another lockdown that would reduce business and industry in Subic. We have to be strict because we also have to make the local economy work, âshe added.
Eisma said the SBMA considers inter-zonal travel high risk because eight of its recently recorded Covid-19 cases involved residents who traveled to metro Manila, while five of them visited from other regions.
She said data from the SBMA’s public health and safety department showed those 13 travelers had, in turn, transmitted the virus to 12 close contacts. Two others were infected after receiving visitors from outside Subic.
In addition to requiring vaccination cards, she said the SBMA also restricted access to certain public spaces to only fully vaccinated people.
These include places for meetings and social events, amusement parks and places of recreation, tourist or tourist attractions, places of religious gatherings in person, as well as restaurants, gymnasiums and personal care stores, which are licensed to operate at 30 percent of their indoor capacity and 50 percent for the outdoors.
However, unvaccinated people may be allowed in supermarkets and grocery stores, but “only for the purpose of accessing essential goods and services”.
The SBMA allows a maximum capacity of 70 percent for public transport; 30% internal capacity for face-to-face courses in higher education establishments; and 60 percent on-site capacity for government offices.
The operation of karaoke bars, indoor entertainment venues, children’s entertainment venues and contact sports venues, except in a bubble-type configuration, is prohibited.
Eisma said the Subic agency will implement other measures that will stop the current spate of Covid-19 cases in the greater Subic Bay area while encouraging stakeholders to get vaccinated for basic doses or injections of reminder.
“We intend to contain this upsurge with vaccines and a solid science behind basic safety protocols like masking, hand washing and social distancing,” she added. (ANP)