Boracay to accept tourists from GCQ areas next month, but negative PCR test result needed

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 23) — Tourists from areas under general community quarantine will be allowed to enter Boracay Island starting October 1, but they will be required to follow health protocols, officials said Wednesday.

“This development came as a result of a special meeting convened by the principals of the Boracay Inter-agency Task Force led by its Chairperson Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Co-Vice Chairpersons, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año and Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, with the Province of Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores on 22 September,” the Department of Tourism said in a statement.

However, the Malay local government is still awaiting formal approval by the country's coronavirus task force of their recommendation to open the doors of the Western Visayas island to more visitors, Acting Mayor Frolibar Bautista told CNN Philippines in an interview.

Visitors must have a negative result on a PCR, or polymerase chain reaction test, 48 to 72 hours prior to their travel to the famous tourist destination, the DOT said.

Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon said visitors must have pre-arranged reservations.

“Pag nasa isla na sila, kailangan silang sumunod doon sa health and safety guidelines na na-develop ng Department of Tourism,” Bengzon stressed in a briefing.

[Translation: Once they set foot on the island, they must follow the health and safety guidelines developed by the Department of Tourism.]

Bautista said nearly 200 establishments have also been given authority to operate.

"Almost 195 accommodation establishments were given certificate authority to operate which comprise more than 4,000 rooms," he told CNN Philippines' News Night.

Well-prepared

In the same briefing, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Boracay Island is “well-prepared” to accept more tourists, noting that safety protocols have already been put in place.

Año said there is an isolation facility on the island and those suspected or confirmed to have the infectious disease will have to leave the place and be brought to Kalibo town proper in Aklan province. A COVID-19 laboratory is also operational at the Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital in Kalibo.

Currently, only tourists from Western Visayas, composed of the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental, can visit the tourist attraction.

In another conference, Carlito Galvez, Chief Implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, said Bohol and Palawan also have potential to reopen doors to tourists soon. Bohol especially is "prepared", Galvez said after officials inspected the area, adding that it could see limited local tourism returning by mid-October.

CNN Philippines' Jun Tariman contributed to this report.