QR codes to be used for stricter border control vs. COVID-19

Stricter border controls will be imposed in less than two weeks once the provincial government completes an information drive on the use of QR codes for those intending to travel to Catanduanes.

The resetting of the arrival process for Locally-Stranded Individuals (LSIs), Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs), and Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APORs) was prompted by the adoption of Baguio City’s successful contact tracing system by the province.

According to Dr. Angel Albert Lamban, incident commander of the Incident Management Team (IMT) Against COVID-19, the traveler will have to register via the contact tracing app three (3) days before his scheduled travel.

Through the app, the would-be traveler uploads the necessary documents like the medical certificate from the city/municipal health officer of the place of origin and travel authority, among others, depending on his or her status.

The system then informs the destination municipality, which will direct the barangay concerned, through the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) to validate the information given by the applicant and check the availability of the barangay quarantine facility or the eligibility of the traveler’s destination home for the 14-day quarantine.

Once the LGU gives the go-signal as well as the suggested date of travel, the system gives the QR code to the traveler’s cellphone which will be used to validate his travel once he arrives at the ports of entry on the island, with the code dissolved once he is at his place of destination.

The system has already been set up at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the provincial capitol, Dr. Lamban disclosed, with the COVID-19 dashboard on Facebook to display instructions as well as easily understandable infographics to applicants in Filipino or English.

A short how-to video is also being prepared to aid the traveling public.

He likewise assured that those who do not have smartphones can have someone with sufficient knowledge to upload the documents and download or print the QR code, which can only be created once the intention to travel on a fixed date is communicated.

Last week, the IMT met with Municipal Health Officers, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officers, and Municipal Administrators to brief them on the contact tracing system.

Meanwhile, the Cebu Pacific Airways has reportedly requested an increase in its flights to Virac, from the two-flights a week to four.

The airlines has asked the provincial government for permission to fly to Virac on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays using the ATR-42 jetprop with a capacity of 78 passengers.

Provincial Administrator Lemuel Surtida told the Tribune last week that the decision on the matter has been put on hold pending implementation of the new travel system.

He disclosed that Governor Joseph Cua has communicated to the airline representatives his preference for daily flights using the ATR-42 plane.

For some time now, the only commercial flights bound for Virac have been limited to 50% capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic even as the airline has requested an increase to 70%.

The IMT has reportedly advised Cebu Pacific to seek the go-signal of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) as the province will follow the decision of the task force.

A recent passenger told the Tribune that while they expected the one-seat apart requirement to be implemented during their flight, they were surprised that all passengers, except for some, were seated side by side during the almost-full flight home.

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