Surigao City mayor suspends order re ‘no vax card, no entry’ policy

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 October) – ‘No vax card, no entry.’

Surigao City Mayor Ernesto Matugas, Jr. has suspended the implementation of his own executive order mandating a ‘no vax card, no entry’ in business establishments policy, following complaints from various sectors.

Matugas issued Executive Order 48 on October 27, requiring presentation of vaccination cards prior to admission in business establishments.

His EO said all businesses, such as “banks, malls, department sotres, supermarkets, and other establishments or agencies” are to “require its customers, guests and / or clients, to present a vaccination card prior to their admission inside or within the premises of the establishment.”

Two days later, Matugas issued EO 49, holding in abeyance until November 15, 2021, the implementation of EO 48.

Surigao City Mayor Ernesto Matugas, Jr., Photo from his FB account

“COVID-19 pandemic is not only the concern of the government, but also that of the private sector and the two must join hands in providing better solutions most especially in the implementation of proactive measures to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus and its variants,” Matugas said in his EO 48.

In his EO 49, Matugas acknowledged receiving “numerous complaints about the inconvenience caused by the immediate implementation by the business and services establishments of the requirement for the presentation of the vaccination card prior to admission to their facility” and that he received several requests, too, from the unvaccinated to be given time to go for vaccination.

Alfredo Dela Cruz, a resident, said on social media that the mayor and his lawyers “should have looked at the numbers. Hasty and untimely manner of its public order will only bring more difficulties and frustrations to the people in these hard times instead of easy accessibility… while giving those who are fully vaccinated some kind of fringe benefits.”

Asked why he issued the policy, Matugas told MindaNews that only 27 per cent of the city’s 119,000 target population for vaccination, are fully vaccinated.

Surigao City has a population of 171,107 as of the May 2020 census. It has to fully vaccinate at least 70% of the population or 119,775 to achieve herd immunity.

“Taas pa ang atong kinahanglan mabakunahan,” the mayor said. (We need more people to be vaccinated),  he stressed.

“Tagpa-hold anay nako for 15 days to give time for those na waya pa mabakunahan na magpabakuna. (I’m holding it for 15 days to give time to these who are unvaccinated.) It was done with good intention to keep our community safe, for businesses to operate without the current restrictions and so that we can live normally again like we used to,” the mayor told MindaNews in a text message. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)