Boracay to scrap COVID-19 swab test for vaccinated tourists | Inquirer News
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Boracay to scrap COVID-19 swab test for vaccinated tourists

/ 05:17 AM October 24, 2021
Boracay, Iloilo

SIGN OF LIFE Residents and tourists on Boracay Island troop to the beach to watch the sunset on Oct. 18 after quarantine
restrictions were lifted for leisure travelers. —JACK JARILLA

ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — The business sector on Boracay Island in Aklan has welcomed the move to open the island-resort to fully vaccinated tourists without the need for a negative COVID-19 swab test result after the expected completion of the island’s vaccination target by the end of this month.

“Let’s make it easy to move around again and let our economy recover. No more need to fill in endless forms and get government approval to travel,” said Boracay business operator Julia Lervick.

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“But it should be the same for locals coming back to the island—if vaccinated, then it should be easy to travel. In that way, we can maintain the island as a safe zone and tourists will start going here,” she said.

Call off curfew, too

Aside from doing away with the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test requirement, Lervick said the current 10 p.m. curfew on the island should also be scrapped.

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“Boracay, being a tourist’s destination, needs to be easier to move around on. For those coming to visit, they expect to have some fun under the sun and, yes, the curfew complicates matters, especially for the workforce,” she said.

In an online press conference of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force on Friday, Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores said that once the island had reached its vaccination target this month, fully vaccinated tourists would no longer need to submit negative RT-PCR test results before being allowed on the island.

They will, however, be required to submit a vaccination certificate issued by the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

Miraflores said waiving the negative RT-PCR test result for tourists would help boost the recovery of the island, which has been economically devastated due to prolonged and repeated lockdowns and travel restrictions since March 2020.

A first

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said they expected the completion of the vaccination target by the end of the month, making Boracay the first tourist destination in the country to have its workers and residents fully vaccinated.

As of Oct. 19, she said 91.96 percent or 11,779 of the 12,809 active tourism workers on the island had been fully vaccinated.

Overall, 77.87 percent of the tourism workers and eligible residents were fully vaccinated as of Friday, local health records showed. The Department of Tourism and the local governments of Aklan province and Malay town were targeting to inoculate 24,451 residents of the island.

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On Thursday, 35,100 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccines were delivered to the island.

Only 1 active case

Romulo-Puyat said the aggressive vaccination drive and the implementation of health protocols had significantly lowered the COVID-19 cases on the island, which only had one active case as of Oct. 19.

Tourist arrivals this month were averaging 700 daily, still a far cry from the 6,000 tourists per day before the pandemic.

But the number of tourists who have so far visited Boracay this month — 14,648 — is significantly higher than the 1,075 tourists who visited in October last year.

From January to Oct. 22, 131,879 tourists have visited the island, according to Romulo-Puyat.

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TAGS: Boracay COVID-19 swab test, Boracay tourism, COVID-19 travel restrictions
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