Public transportation between the two Negros provinces will resume when the COVID-19 situation on the Oriental side improves, Negros Occidental provincial administrator Rayfrando Diaz said Tuesday, October 26.
Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson met with the Provincial Incident Management Team and the “assessment is there is more risks on the part of Negros Occidental in opening up the borders to public transportation with Oriental”, he said.
He pointed out that the Department of Health has classified Negros Oriental as a COVID-19 high risk area for COVID-19 under Alert Level 4.
Negros Occidental has been classified as a COVID-19 low risk area under Alert Level 2, Diaz added.
“It’s counterproductive to our campaign against COVID-19 if we allow unimpeded or unchecked travel between Oriental and Occidental,” he said.
“Still we are looking for ways for fully vaccinated individuals to enter Negros Occidental provided their vaccination cards are verifiable with QR codes so people will not falsify them”, Diaz said.
They hope the situation in Negros Oriental improves so once it’s safe, normal public transportation in the island can resume, he said.
Vallacar Transit Inc. (VTI) has asked the Negros Occidental provincial government for permission to resume bus operations between Occidental and Oriental.
Diaz said they are waiting for VTI representatives to “come back with all the things that we requested” for the bus firm to resume operations between the two Negros provinces.
If an agreement to reopen borders to public transportation is reached, Occidental and Oriental must adopt the same protocols, he said.
For now private vehicles are allowed to cross the borders as long as their passengers have approved S-PASS (Safe, Swift and Smart Passage) permits with negative RT-PCR test results or QR coded vaccination cards, he added.
Negros Oriental spokesperson Bimbo Miraflor said Gov. Roel Degamo is appealing for a downgrade of the Alert Level 4 classification of his province because it does not apply to the real situation on the ground.
“We are asking the national Inter-Agency Task Force for reconsideration… we want the NIATF to validate the data before an alert level is implemented in the province”, he said.
That’s their call, Miraflor said, on Negros Occidental’s hesitancy to open up the borders to public transportation.
“We are making it clear that public transportation is not yet allowed between the two provinces,” Miraflor also said.
Negros Oriental no longer requires an S-PASS but fully vaccinated travelers need to present their vaccination cards and negative antigen test results, he said.
Those who are not vaccinated need to present negative RT-PCR test results, he said.
However, on November 1 they will have new requirements that will be posted when a resolution is signed by Degamo, Miraflor added.*