(PNA Bacolod file photo)

BACOLOD CITY – The City of Sipalay in Negros Occidental has opened its doors to travelers from other parts of Western Visayas (Region 6) and has also eliminated the need for travel documents for visitors within the province starting Wednesday.

The new travel rules are among those provided in Executive Order (EO) 2021-006 issued by Mayor Maria Gina Lizares, adopting the Provincial Executive Order 21-18 signed by Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson to adopt uniform travel protocols for land, air, and sea.

“Region 6 travelers shall now be allowed entry to the city provided they follow provincial and the local government requirements,” the directive stated.

Sipalay, located in southern Negros, is the province’s top tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches and breathtaking dive sites, and is also known as the “Jewel of the Sugar Island”.

Travelers from within the region will no longer be required to present a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR test, but will be asked to register in S-PaSS.ph and apply for a travel coordination permit, and secure an approved printed copy before travel.

They must pass symptoms screening upon arrival at any provincial point of entry, and those with symptoms will be subjected to corresponding confirmatory tests and facility quarantine.

Tourists from outside Western Visayas will be allowed entry but should present negative RT-PCR test results valid only 72 hours from the date of swab extraction.

Under EO 2021-006, tourism online registration will no longer be required, but accommodation establishments should submit the health declaration forms of guests.

Accommodation establishments will also be required to provide upright thermal scanners and constantly monitor their guests for symptoms.

Also, the Sipalay travel form will no longer be required to enter the city, but border checkpoints will strictly implement symptoms screening and will deny entry to travelers who fail the screening.

Starting Wednesday, tourists traveling on public transport will already be allowed entry.

On March 3, the city government allowed accommodation establishments such as hotels, resorts, and inns to operate at 100 percent capacity as provided in EO 2021-005, extending the modified general community quarantine in the city until March 31.

For two and half months last year, starting Aug. 14, Sipalay banned all tourism-related and non-essential travels amid the spike in cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in Negros Occidental.

The city lifted the moratorium for tourists on Nov. 6 under strict health and safety protocols. (PNA)