A negative COVID-19 test result is not a license to party and disregard health protocols, Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Friday, as she urged Filipinos to be responsible tourists.

Testing negative via RT-PCR simply means that the person is not infected at the time of screening. They could easily catch the virus in the short window before they hop on a plane, Romulo-Puyat said.

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She urged additional caution for celebrities, who post photos of their travels on social media. In late January, eventologist Tim Yap went viral for throwing a birthday party in Baguio City where guests line danced minus face covering.

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"It's not because if you test, you can party. You cannot party. You shouldn't. You're only negative at the time of the test. We still have COVID," she told Summit Sandwich Sessions.

"Traveling now is a responsibility... If you do it responsibly. You have to be responsible tourists so that tourism will slowly but surely restart," she said.

"We know what works"

Filipinos quarantined for one year "know what to do by now" as far as wearing of face masks and face shields, hand washing and physicial distancing, Romulo-Puyat said.

Authorities are moving to reinforce compliance with so-called minimum health standards as infections in Metro Manila increase, forcing a two-week-long curfew starting March 15.

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"We already know what works, what doesn't work. We already know how to wear a mask," she said. 

Celebirities should be role models, she said. "People follow what they do, di ba? If they're seeing the party, magpa-party na rin sila," she added. 

The tourism secretary said the slow but sure reopening of tourist spots rests on preventing spikes from happening.

"We have to restart tourism but we have to balance giving back jobs with health and safety protocols. I do not want to go back to [locking down] tourist destinations because nagpabaya ang travelers," she said.

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