Inbound travelers from outside the Bicol region will have to present a negative test result for COVID-19 before thety will be allowed entry into Catanduanes, the provincial government announced last week.
In Executive Order No. 012 issued March 20, 2021, Governor Joseph C. Cua declared that all persons travelling to Catanduanes must present an original copy of the negative result of RT-PCR test, saliva rapid test, or antigen rapid test issued within three (3) days prior to the date of arrival.
On the other hand, Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APORs) from national government agencies and attached agencies must present their IDs, travel order and itinerary of travel at the border control.
The EO also states that all persons travelling from Catanduanes to any province within the Bicol region must secure a Letter of Exemption (LOE) at the designated desk at the Provincial Capitol, with the LOE to be presented to border control upon reentry to the province.
Those who have secured the LOE shall no longer present a negative RT-PCR or rapid test result upon reentry to the province as long as the travel was within the Bicol region.
However, the LOE shall not be issued to any person who will travel to and from regions outside Bicol such as NCR and CALABARZON, the order clarified.
It likewise reminded travelers to secure the Staysafe or Traze QR code as one of the requirements prior to entry to Catanduanes, and in traveling through or to Albay, the ALBAYGET-PASS as mandated under an EO issued by Gov. Al Francis Bichara.
If one is traveling from Catanduanes and ride a passenger bus or private vehicle from Tabaco Port, or board an outbound plane at Legazpi Airport, the passenger is required to use the ALBAYGET-PASS for contact tracing purposes.
Both Gov. Cua and Gov. Bichara issued the executive orders in anticipation of the influx of travelers prior to the Holy Week observance following the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) decision to approve uniform travel protocols in the entire country.
The Bichara EO initially was not clear on the border control requirement for travelers from Catanduanes who are in transit to places outside Albay but Gov. Cua reportedly interceded with the Albay provincial government to require only the ALBAYGET-PASS code upon arrival at Tabaco port.
The recent alarming and continuing increase in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila and other cities pose a threat to public health in the province of Catanduanes, Gov. Cua said.
Three days before issuing the EO, the chief executive had written the Bicol IATF to suggest the use of antigen tests as a cost-efficient and accessible alternative to the RT-PCR test which is expensive and time-consuming.
The rapid tests should be centralized at the bus stations in Metro Manila for Bicol-bound passengers, he said, in pushing for intensified border control and management by local governments.