Is it okay to travel to La Union now that most parts of the country are in GCQ (General Community Quarantine)? I published this post a month ago but never shared it on Facebook. Prior to publishing this, I’ve been contemplating writing about this for a few weeks.
For those who have been following my blog page on Facebook, you may have noticed that since June, I wasn’t as active in publishing new posts in my blog as I was during the lockdown.
I’ve been busy with an online class (which I finished two weeks ago and I’m gonna write about it soon). Also, I didn’t want people to think that I’m encouraging them to travel. It was probably the reason why I wasn’t motivated to write.
During the lockdown, I was publishing posts twice a week. I wasn’t worried then because no one is allowed to go out anyway. But now that community quarantine measures have eased up, I’m getting a bit concerned because the number of new COVID-19 positive cases in the Philippines is still increasing.
Here in the province of La Union, there was a spike in the number of confirmed cases since last month. From four active COVID-19 cases last July 15, 17 new cases were reported the following day. Three more cases were reported last July 17 and one on the 18th. As of August 20, the province has a total of 77 active cases.
La Union or Elyu, as it is fondly called by Filipino millennials is one of the go-to beach getaways for most travelers. Dubbed as the “Surfing Capital of the Northern Philippines”, it attracts local tourists because of its accessibility (less than 5 hours of land travel from Manila by private car) and chill vibe. So I wasn’t surprised when a colleague asked me last June if it is already open for tourism. It is also probably the question of many who are now dying to go on a getaway after being stuck at home for more than 3 months.
Is It Okay To Travel To La Union Now?
As per PGLU Executive Order No. 19C, S. 2020, leisure and tourism travel in La Union is limited to residents of Region 1. Region 1 consists of the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan. And starting September 22, La Union will also be open for residents of Baguio City.
Although the province has this EO, people still find a way of getting into the province even if they are not allowed. Last June, a customer who works in one of the hotels here told our staff that there were tourists from Manila that attempted to check-in in their hotel. They were sent away because the hotel follows the protocol requirements. However, I was told that there are some establishments here who don’t follow the requirements and still accept guests from other regions.
If you’re thinking of doing the same, do note that due to the spike of COVID-19 cases, the province intensified its border control in the seven entry and exit points in La Union. A negative RT-PCR result within 3 days before the actual arrival in La Union is required. Also, prior booking with hotel/accommodation and a medical clearance certificate is required. Read PGLU Executive Order No. 19C, S. 2020 for the requirements for people who will enter the province.
How Is The Surftown Right Now?
After the lockdown was lifted, many establishments here slowly opened. But it is very different from how it used to be.
Surfing is already allowed, but surfing lessons are still prohibited. The beach isn’t crowded anymore. And the sunset is still amazing. Some hotels and restaurants are now open. Dine it at restaurants are now allowed, but only at 50% capacity. Most restaurants are operating at reduced hours.
The pandemic affected the livelihood of the locals, and some businesses had to let go of their employees. I haven’t been out a lot, but I’ve noticed that some businesses remain closed. A popular establishment here that gets full every weekend before the pandemic, opened for about a month but decided to close again.
In our shop, we reduced our operating hours and we no longer open on Sundays. We have a lot of idle time right now. I get the time to repot my plants or do some craftworks while manning the shop. My staff and I sometimes reminisce about the old days, how we’d get super tired on Friday nights and weekends, and we extend shop hours to cater to customer’s needs.
When there had been a sudden spike in the number of active cases in the capital city San Fernando last month, it was put on lockdown for two weeks. Although the surf town was not included in the lockdown, we were affected by it because banks and big establishments are in the city. Going to the city was allowed but one has to secure a permit first. The operation of public utility jeepneys was suspended. It made going to the city difficult for the people here.
Spread The Love, Not The Virus
It will probably take some more months before we could all go back to how it used to be. While a vaccine is not yet available, let us try to avoid going out unless extremely necessary. Let us not just think of ourselves but of other people as well. Now is not the time to be selfish.
Postpone your travel plans to next year. Be a responsible traveler. Just because you can travel now, doesn’t mean you should.
And if you really need to travel, please follow and respect the guidelines of the place you are visiting. Observe physical distancing. Avoid crowded places. Wash your hands regularly. Wear a face mask properly whenever you go out of the house. Let us help stop the spread of the virus so we can all get on with our lives.
Finally, in case you misunderstood the purpose of this post, I would like to be clear that I wrote this not to entice you to come and visit Elyu now. I know I described a place that is peaceful and not crowded with active cases not as many as that in Metro Manila. But the only reason I did it is to give you an update of how it is here right now. I hope you also understood what the impact will be if the number of active cases in the province continues to increase.
To end this post, I would like to remind you that unless you are from Region 1, you can’t travel to Elyu just yet.
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