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MAASIN CITY, May 19 (PIA) -- The province of Southern Leyte has chosen to remain in general community quarantine (GCQ), integrating provisions not earlier found in previous orders, such as those wanting to come home, the holding of Eucharistic celebrations for the catholic faithful, and mobility.

Under the latest issuance, Executive Order No. 27, the GCQ situation from May 1 to 15 was extended to cover for 15 more days, from May 16 to 31, during which public transportation from destinations outside the province going inside, and from inside the province going outside, is still suspended.

But the port in Benit, San Ricardo, was allowed to open in addition to the ports of Liloan, San Juan, Sogod, and this city, to cater only to entry of essential goods, including passage of livestock and other meat products from areas in Mindanao that are certified free from African Swine Fever (ASF).

“Port checkpoint should have Veterinary personnel to conduct proper inspection of livestock and meat (processed and raw) cargoes for ASF monitoring. Hogs from greenzone areas in Mindanao with proper documents shall be allowed to be transported which will be escorted directly to the provincial border,” a section on checkpoints, Section 3.1.2, pointed out.

Cargo vehicles are limited to a maximum of three personnel, including the driver.

More noticeable in EO 27, however, are sections dedicated to allowing the return of stranded local tourists or individuals (Section 3.2A.5), the Hatid-Estudyante Program (Section 3.2A.7), and conduct of Holy Mass (Section 5.1).

For locally stranded individuals, the requirements to comply for them to be allowed to come home are the following: Clearance from the authorized national government agency (DOT/DOTr/OCD) and LGU of the place of origin; Medical certificate to be applied three days before transit from the Local Health Officer of the place of origin, certifying that they are not classified as suspect, probable or confirmed patients in transit; Negative RT-PCR Test from accredited DOH Testing Center; Certification of 14-day quarantine period from local health officer of the place of origin; and Certificate of acceptance from the receiving LGU.

As to Hatid-Estudyante Program, the stranded students must also coordinate with the authorized national government agencies earlier mentioned, and satisfy the following requirements: Certification that the stranded students have completed the 14-day quarantine and that the person is not a suspect/probable/confirmed COVID-19 case from the local health officer 3 days before their departure; Clearance from the Department of Transportation; Negative result on COVID rapid diagnostic test; Valid student ID or proof of latest enrolment; Parental consent; Approval from the Provincial IATF; and Letter of acceptance from the local government units where they reside.

On arrival, the students “shall be again placed in mandatory 14-dayd quarantine in designated isolation units of the city/municipalities/barangays” or in a private accommodation, the expenses shouldered by the LGU for the former, the family for the latter, plus an agreement between the LGU and accommodating establishment on the quarantine procedure.

“They can be released from quarantine at the receiving LGU if they yield a second RT-PCR test result,” the guideline further said.

For the protocols that must be observed to celebrate a Holy Mass, these are as follows: Schedule of masses shall be coordinated with the city/municipal local chief executives; Placement of markings to indicate 1 meter physical distancing at the pews and entrance and exits; Handwashing, footbath and thermal gun facilities are installed and strictly observed by everyone going inside the church; Surfaces, handrails, pews and church premises shall be sanitized daily; Individuals allowed entry are only those expressly mentioned in Section 1 under Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR); A one-way entrance and exit shall be provided; Only one priest is allowed to distribute the communion; Only three altar servers, 1 lector and 3 choir members are allowed; Information should be posted of the approved schedule and health protocols at the church entrance; Strictly no socialization after the mass; Allowed number of churchgoers: 30 for cathedrals, 20 for other parish churches, and 10 for chapels excluding the persons mentioned in (h) and the priest. All shall be authorized persons outside residence. (ldl/mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)