STRINGENT PROTOCOLS. Hotels at the Subic Bay Freeport remind guests to practice health and safety protocols in response to the rising cases of Covid-19. The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has imposed stricter protocols on all hotels at the Subic Bay Freeport starting Monday (Jan. 24, 2022) after the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) placed Zambales, Olongapo City, and Bataan under Alert Level 3 early this January. (Photo courtesy of SBMA)

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has imposed stricter safety protocols in all hotels here to ensure the health and safety of visitors amid reports of increasing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.

SBMA chairman and administrator Wilma T. Eisma said on Tuesday hotels and other accommodation facilities here now require guests to present negative results of Covid-19 antigen tests taken in the past 24 hours or reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests released 48 hours prior to check-in.

Eisma said visitors entering the Freeport are asked to show completed vaccination cards or negative (RT-PCR) test results for the unvaccinated.

The new requirement took effect January 24 following the issuance of Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) guidelines placing Zambales, Olongapo City, and Bataan under Alert Level 3.

“While interzonal travel is allowed under Alert Level 3, we want to take the extra step in ensuring the health and safety of, not only our visitors in the Freeport, but also our local businesses, workers, and stakeholders,” Eisma said in a statement.

Recently, Olongapo City, where most of the workers in the Subic Bay Freeport reside, was named as one of the cities with the highest rate of Covid-19 infections.

The Subic Freeport, meanwhile, logged 78 active cases among Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ) residents and 17 among transient workers and guests as of January 18.

“This is why we have to be more vigilant, and why we should not relax our guard,” Eisma said.

Along with the hotel requirements, the SBMA also reminded Subic business locators and stakeholders to report possible cases of Covid-19 to the SBMA Public Health and Safety Department, and to announce to the public if they have been temporarily closed because of confirmed Covid-19 cases in their premises.

Under Republic Act 11332, or the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act,” Eisma said persons and entities that will not report Covid-19 cases or respond to Covid-19-related advisories may be fined PHP20,000 to PHP50,000. Moreover, this shall be grounds for the cancellation of their certificates of registration.

She added that while the SBMA is not a local government unit (LGU), it has initiated a vaccine drive primarily for Freeport employees, health workers, and residents.

“At the end of the day, we can only beat Covid-19 if we practice malasakit (concern) and help each other,” Eisma added. (PNA)