By Addison Pascua

PHOTO: Tawid News Magazine

The provincial government of Ilocos Norte has tightened its implementation of COVID-19 health and safety protocols in the province amid the threat of the more contagious Omicron variant. 

In an executive order released Wednesday night, Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc has mandated regulatory measures on border control, entry of travelers, events capacities, and regulation of vaccination cards to temper the spread of the disease in the province.

Under the new EO, individuals who intend to enter Ilocos Norte must undergo an antigen test at the provincial border, regardless of their vaccination status. 

This protocol, however, can be waived if they can present a negative RT-PCR swab test taken within the last 60 hours or a negative antigen test result conducted within the last 24 hours prior to their entry from a DOH-accredited testing facility.

On the other hand, fully vaccinated Ilocos Norte residents who have exited the province for not more than 72 hours shall not be required to submit any negative COVID-19 test results.

The provincial government reiterated that residents traveling outside the province for more than 72 hours are required to undergo the necessary testing requirements.

According to the order, border crossers and cargo vehicles who are registered and accredited by the Metro Ilocos Norte Council (MINC) of the provincial government must also present a negative COVID-19 test taken within the last seven days.

In addition, Manotoc said the provincial government will shoulder the testing expenses of all incoming residents and registered tourists staying for at least 2 nights in the province.

Meanwhile, residents who will hold indoor gatherings must obtain the local chief’s approval and must ensure the venue is limited to 50 individuals, excluding staff, and at a maximum of 30% capacity.
Outdoor events are also limited to 150 individuals, and at a maximum of 50% venue capacity.

All indoor establishments are directed to check the vaccination cards of entrants prior to entry into the building.

The latest data shows that Ilocos Norte has 19,011 total confirmed COVID-19 infections, of which, 58 are active cases, 18,466 are recoveries, and 487 are fatalities.