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Boracay-bound tourists need COVID-19 tests

/ 05:04 AM January 07, 2022

HOLIDAY SPOT Tourist arrivals on Boracay Island reached a pandemic-high record 113,596 in December 2021 but tourism and local officials expect a decline after travel restrictions have been tightened again due to the threat of the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19. —JACK JARILLA

ILOILO CITY—All tourists, including those fully vaccinated against COVID-19, will again need a negative swab test result to visit Boracay Island starting Jan. 9 as part of heightened restrictions due to the Omicron variant.

Other local governments in Western Visayas region are also reimposing restrictions in anticipation of a possible surge amid the increasing COVID-19 cases.

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Under an executive order issued by Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores on Jan. 5, tourists bound for the resort island will be required to submit a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result taken within 72 hours before their trip to the island.

Barely two months ago, on Nov. 16, 2021, fully vaccinated tourists were allowed to present only vaccination certificates in lieu of negative RT-PCR test results.

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Operating hours of businesses on the island have also been limited from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. while curfew has been lengthened to six hours, from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. The operation of public transportation in Boracay is allowed only from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The consumption of alcoholic beverages has also been prohibited in public areas and in entertainment venues with live bands.

Arrivals

The tightened restrictions could affect tourist arrivals on the island which recorded a pandemic-high volume of 113,596 tourists in December, the highest since January 2020 when 167,070 tourists went to the island just before travel was restricted due to the pandemic.

Restrictions on the Aklan mainland, including operating hours of businesses and public transportation, and curfew, are tighter compared to Boracay Island which is part of Malay town.

In Roxas City in Capiz province, operations of government offices have been limited to 80 percent of the workforce. A curfew from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. has been implemented along with a liquor ban in commercial establishments from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Celebrations of fiestas have been prohibited, as well as swimming in public beaches.

In Iloilo City, inbound travelers are also required to submit negative RT-PCR test results.

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Gatherings in households have been limited to members of the household while attendance in religious services is limited to 30 percent of the venue capacity.

Restaurants are allowed to accept clients but are limited to 30 percent of the venue’s indoor capacity and 50 percent of the outdoor venue capacity.

Starting Jan. 15, a negative RT-PCR test result will be required for all travelers, including the fully vaccinated, to Iloilo province 72 hours before their trip.

NATURE’S SHOW Visitors get out of their hotel rooms and gather on the beach in Boracay to enjoy the spectacular view of the setting sun. —JACK JARILLA

Canceled trips

In Baguio City, a number of tourists bound for the summer capital have scrapped their trips apparently due to the COVID-19 test requirements that were imposed on those arriving from Metro Manila and the provinces of Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan beginning Thursday.

Some prebooked travelers have canceled their registration online because of the additional requirement, which some consider as an extra expense they could no longer afford, said Aloysius Mapalo, city tourism operations supervisor, at a briefing on Wednesday.

Some of these families also have second thoughts about bringing their children after the city government reinstated the requirement for negative RT-PCR or antigen test for minors age 12 to 17.

Citing reports from accommodation facilities, Mapalo said adult tourists, who passed screening and were among the 83,000 cleared to visit Baguio from January to March 3, “don’t want [children] to be too exposed.”

On Jan. 2, the city government suspended the processing of new leisure travel applications due to the threat of Omicron and an increase in the city’s number of infections.

As of Wednesday, Baguio had recorded 109 new infections, raising the number of its active COVID cases to 248, a sharp rise from only four cases on Christmas Day.

Border testing

In Ilocos Norte, the provincial government has reimposed the COVD-19 testing requirement for those entering the province, regardless of their vaccination status.

Gov. Matthew Marcos Manotoc, in an executive order he issued on Wednesday, said the intensified border protocols required all persons to undergo antigen tests upon arrival at the provincial borders.

Inbound travelers also have the option to present a negative RT-PCR test taken within the last 60 hours or a negative antigen test within the last 24 hours prior to traveling to the province.

Exempted from the new rule are returning residents who have been out of the province not exceeding 72 hours or those who traveled on a round-trip basis.

Testing expenses of all incoming residents and registered tourists who would be staying for at least two nights would be shouldered by the provincial government, Manotoc said. —WITH REPORTS FROM VINCENT CABREZA AND JOHN MICHAEL MUGAS INQ

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: Boracay, Boracay tourists, Coronavirus, pandemic, RT-PCR test
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