Spare Boracay Island for now, biz group appeals to NIATF

PHOTO CAPTION: Boracay business leaders are appealing for some leniency from the NIATF in determining the island’s community quarantine status to avert “further pandemic setback”./iNEWS

BORACAY–A business group has asked the National Inter-Agency Task Force (NIATF) to spare Boracay Island from tighter COVID-19 restrictions at least for the time being.

In a letter to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI)-Boracay appealed for a less restrictive quarantine status for the island resort, citing how ‘worrying lockdowns’ could further worsen the economy of the island that relies heavily on tourism.

The business group hopes the accelerated vaccine doses deployment in the coming weeks and the stringent border control measures already in place will be taken into consideration by the NIATF when deciding Boracay’s quarantine status.

“Boracay Island does not seek any special treatment. And we would like to be subject to the same decision-making matrix, the same guidelines as outlined by the national inter-agency task force. But we hope the favorable metrics for Boracay Island be considered in relation to the decision for community quarantine status,” said PCCI Boracay president Wesley van der Voort and PCCI Boracay vice president Michael Sweeny.

PCCI-Boracay believes a less restrictive quarantine status, which would be in sharp contrast to the sweeping restrictions in many towns in mainland Aklan, would avert “further pandemic setback” for the island’s economy.

‘HIGH-RISK’ AKLAN

The NIATF has extended the general community quarantine (GCQ) status of Aklan with heightened restrictions until July 22, prompted by the alarming rate by which COVID cases rose from the period between July 15 and July 21. The province is now classified as “high risk” for COVID by the Department of Health.

The Provincial Health Office-Aklan confirmed 150 new community-acquired COVID-19 cases on July 20, bringing the province’s cumulative total to 6,575 confirmed cases and 140 deaths since the pandemic began.

Across the province, all but one are reporting increasing COVID-19 case counts. Kalibo now has 308 active cases. The cases are also climbing in Ibajay with 134, Nabas (130), Numancia (86), and New Washington with 79 active infections. Libacao currently has three.

But even when the national government reverts the province to the more lenient modified enhanced general community (MECQ) this week, Boracay Island, which has 47 active cases as of July 19, would still be negatively impacted as, under this quarantine status, it would be off-limits to tourists.

Under GCQ or MGCQ, fully vaccinated travelers to Boracay Island are required to show proof of negative swab or saliva tests taken within 72 hours prior to travel and confirmed hotel bookings. So far, the island welcomed more than 21,000 tourists from July 1 to 18. (Boy Ryan Zabal/iNEWS-Aklan/Boracay Bureau)

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