Sagada reopens to tourists with new rules

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CNN Philippines (February 22) – The tourist spots in the popular highland town of Sagada in Mountain Province, which were closed almost two weeks ago due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) health threat, have reopened their doors to the public, with new regulations for those wish to visit.

Sagada Mayor James Pooten, Jr. on Friday signed the order lifting the suspension on all eco-tourism activities except for spelunking and sunrise viewing "provided further that the precautionary measures by the task force COVID-19 Sagada" to prevent the spread of the coronavirus "shall be complied with."

Pooten said that as a precaution, sunrise viewing is still prohibited to avoid mass gatherings and spelunking to avoid close contact among visitors.

Tours can only start at 7 a.m., the town chief said, but tourists could still trek to Marlboro Hills and other sites at or after the said time.

Visitors also need to undergo health screenings upon arrival in Sagada.

“Assessment will be done when registering at the Tourist Information Center, when checking in at accommodations, and before tours start,” the local government said.

Sagada LGU also asked innkeepers, owners of private establishments, tour guides to come up with protocols on COVID-19.

The municipality is home to the famous Hanging Coffins, in which coffins dangle from cliffs and caves, reflecting the old Igorot burial tradition. It is also famous for its cultural heritage, beautiful landscapes and cold weather.

Another famous Cordillera town, Atok in Benguet province, which was shuttered as part of heightened precautions against the new virus, has reportedly opened to visitors on Saturday.