Sarangani bans non-residents from its top tourist destinations

White sand beaches are the main attraction in Glan, Sarangani. MindaNews photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 06 May) – Sarangani province’s top tourist destinations will be off-limits to non-residents starting Saturday, May 8, as it closes down its borders anew to non-essential travel until the end of the month due to the increasing COVID-19 cases.

Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon directed the move through Executive Order (EO) No. 16 released on Wednesday night, which sets the implementation of stricter border control and other vital measures to mitigate the spread of the disease in the province.

He said only essential travels into the province will be allowed, with the movements limited to work-related purposes, accessing goods and services, seeking health care and other essential activities.

The measure applies to land travel as well as sea transport via the Sarangani Bay and the Celebes Sea, he said.

“Tourism establishments/facilities in Sarangani are closed (to) non-residents (until May 31),” the governor said.

It will mainly affect beach resorts situated in its six coastal municipalities, especially the popular destinations in Glan town, which is dubbed the “Boracay of the South” due to its famed white sand beaches.

Tourism destinations in the province, which were forced to close down due to the lockdowns following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, reopened to residents within Soccsksargen or Region 12 late last year and those from other regions last February.

South Cotabato and this city imposed border restrictions starting last May 1 due to the noted increase in COVID-19 cases.

Under EO 16, all travelers from areas with active community transmission will be required to present negative Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) results for Covid-19 taken 72 hours prior in accredited laboratories.

No mass gatherings will be allowed during the period, except those for health, social services, safety and security purposes but should follow the 50 percent capacity limit for venues.

FIRST DOSE. Roxan Siason, a Department of Health nurse in Sarangani Province, extracts the first dose of the Sinovac-made vaccine, CoronaVac, to be administered on medical frontliners on Sunday, March 7, 2021, a day ahead of the regional schedule. MindaNews photo by ROMMEL G. REBOLLIDO

Religious activities may continue at 30 percent capacity while weddings, baptisms and necrological services will be limited to 25 persons and should obtain approval from concerned municipal governments.

Business establishments as well as private and public utility vehicles may continue to operate in specified areas within the province at 50 percent capacity.

The selling of liquor will be regulated and drinking intoxicating beverages in public are prohibited, especially during the curfew hours adopted by its municipalities.

Solon said the intensified surveillance against COVID-19 will continue in their seven municipalities through increased testing activities.

He said random antigen and RT-PCR testing will be conducted among individuals with Influenza-like illnesses and without known exposures to the disease.

They will also monitor establishments with high risks of transmission like markets and companies or industries, he said.

The active COVID-19 cases in Sarangani have increased to 71 as of 6 p.m. Wednesday following the emergence of new clusters in various municipalities.

Since last year, the confirmed infections in the province reached a total of 729, the lowest in Region 12, with 18 related deaths and 640 recovered patients. (MindaNews)