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Business groups want separate quarantine status for Boracay

The island cannot be in the same classification as rest of Aklan with business on the ‘verge of complete collapse’
/ 04:40 AM August 24, 2021

GHOST TOWN The latest round of lockdowns in Metro Manila and Aklan province, which is under the second strictest classification, modified enhanced community quarantine, has again turned
Boracay Island into a ghost town in this photo taken on Aug. 17. —JACK JARILLA

ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — Two business groups on Boracay Island are seeking a quarantine designation separate from Aklan province, warning that the island’s tourism sector is “on the verge of complete financial collapse.”

In a rare joint letter, the officers of Boracay Foundation Inc. and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Boracay asked Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores to authorize the municipal government of Malay, where Boracay is located, to issue a separate executive order on the island’s community quarantine status, guidelines and restrictions.

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The business groups pointed out the situation on the island is different from the Aklan mainland, especially since it is physically separated from the rest of the province.

“Controlling the movement of people can be efficiently managed, and health and safety protocols and policies can be less restrictive to allow businesses to operate and allow the local economy to run,” according to the joint resolution dated Aug. 19.

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Aklan has been placed under the second strictest modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) since Aug. 1 until Aug. 31.

Leisure travel is prohibited in areas under MECQ and enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and the lack of tourists has worsened the economic situation of Boracay. Metro Manila, the main source of leisure travelers heading for Boracay, was earlier placed under ECQ and later to MECQ.

‘We are all broke’

The prolonged lockdown has forced more shops on the island to close down.

With no tourists coming in and all business establishments mandated to close at 4 p.m. along with a ban on dine-in services for restaurants, businesses are struggling to maintain their staff.

“Our businesses won’t survive in this lockdown with the new restrictions of no dine-in and closing at 4 [p.m.], and as many of our staff don’t have any more money or financial support, they depend on the work we can provide them,” business operator Julia Lervik said in an open letter address to local officials and the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force.

“We, the owners or managers of the businesses, have no more savings to take from to support them or us, as we are all already broke. The no dine-in and only take out [policy], has thrown us back [on] our knees again,” said Lervik, a resident of the island for 32 years who manages businesses with about 100 workers.

She agreed with the two business groups that the quarantine restrictions in Boracay should be different from the rest of Aklan.

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“Boracay is an island, thus we can control the flow of people going in and out, thereby allowing easy monitoring of the cases and decreasing the chances of COVID-19 spreading. Let’s make our island the example to live for. Please help us survive and give us the chance to earn a living again,” Lervik said.

“For the longest time, our island has provided income for the whole province, but for two years now we have had no income, please listen to our cry for help,” she said.

Boracay Island was closed to tourists in March last year as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. Tourists from Western Visayas were allowed on the island on June 16, and from the rest of the country in October. But just as tourist arrivals steadily rose, the number of visitors plunged in March this year due to the lockdown in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces where the bulk of tourists are coming from.

Arrivals reached 35,108 for the whole of July, the highest since the pandemic was declared. But tourists were again barred from coming to the island since Aug. 1 after the Aklan province was put under MECQ, the second highest level of restriction. Only a few long-staying tourists who are working remotely from the island have remained.

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TAGS: Boracay Foundation Inc., Boracay quarantine status, COVID-19 pandemic, Florencio Miraflores, PCCI Boracay
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