Stakeholders of the island of Boracay in the province of Aklan want the Philippine government to impose a quarantine less restrictive than that for the rest of the province.
Image source: BusinessMirror
The BusinessMirror has reported today that the officers of the Philippines Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Boracay or BCCI wrote a letter on July 15, 2021 to Philippines’ Secretary of Health, Francisco H. Duque III that said, “[The] situation in Boracay Island is different from the situation in the province of Aklan at this time. We would like to request that the favorable metrics for Boracay Island be considered in relation to the decision for community quarantine status…, and we note the current low number of cases and transmissions… In the longer term, [we] would like that Boracay Island be granted its own community quarantine status. As we move forward, this small population island will be [increasingly] vaccinated, and we are seeing vaccines arrive in numbers.”
Duque has been heading the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases or IATF. Boracay attracted 2 million tourists from within and outside the country before the outbreak took place.
The Philippines Department of Tourism or DOT has been helping 11,620 workers in tourism in Boracay receive vaccines, having received some 13,000 doses of vaccine against COVID-19 in July 27, with the department seeking to vaccinate all workers there, come holiday season.
Aklan has been risking going through modified enhanced community quarantine that will automatically close a destination to leisure travelers because of the rising cases of COVID-19 on the mainland for the past several weeks.
The DOT has been encouraging local government units or LGUs to work with the IATF fruther about setting their respective community quarantines as such.
Philippines’ Secretary of Tourism, Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, told the BusinessMirror that she informed the private sector that the mayor of Malay and the governor of Aklan themselves should appeal about the community quarantines instead especially in the case of Boracay, stressing, “The DOT does not decide on the quarantine classifications imposed in a certain area, as this falls under the jurisdiction of the IATF, after vetting of the Screening Validation Committee co-chaired by the Department of Interior and Local Government and the [DOH]”.
The Screening Validation Committee informs LGUs on the impending community quarantines in their areas from the number of cases of COVID there before the IATF meets, while they can appeal to the committee about the intensity of the quarantines or reversing them before recommendation to the IATF.
Tourism Congress of the Philippines President, Jose C. Clemente III, for his part said that he supported the request of the BCCI for a separate community quarantine for Boracay, but stressed that it must reach first a 70-per-cent rate of vaccination for observers to monitor if the vaccines are effective, pointing out, “The LGU really has to address the entrance/exit of daily workers from coming in and out of the island. If there are infections, that’s probably the cause,” underscoring that the workers must be “RT-PCR tested, not antigen tested.” He said that they have been recommending to Governor Florencio Tumbocon Miraflores of Aklan and Mayor Frolibar Bautista of Malay “a 15-day shifting rotation of workers, with testing. The TCP believes that can be a deterrent to new COVID cases.”
Likewise, Romulo-Puyat told stakeholders in Boracay that reopening it “is a significant development in the government’s efforts to revive the tourism industry in a safe and responsible manner. Given this, the DOT has further suggested to the Provincial Government of Aklan and the LGU of Malay to implement stricter border and testing controls in Boracay, especially for workers who are traveling from Aklan mainland to Boracay on a daily basis. Such effort will help protect Boracay’s bubble and ensure the health and safety of its tourists, workers, and residents.”