BORACAY – The local government unit of Malay, Aklan considers lifting of border control checkpoints imposed to lessen the risk of spreading the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Acting town mayor Frolibar Bautista said the lifting, however, would entail stringent health screenings at the Caticlan port for tourists entering Boracay.
Last week, Bautista issued Executive Order (EO) No. 4, which temporarily bars the entry to Malay and Boracay Island of any persons, regardless of nationality, who travelled to China and its special administrative regions for the past 14 days.
The new measure, which came into effect on Feb. 7, for border control checkpoints in Sitio Bacolod-Caticlan, Dumlog, and Union (Nabas)-Caticlan, and the Caticlan port for travellers of motorized pump boats from Romblon and roll-on roll-off vessels from Mindoro and Batangas as a precautionary move against COVID-19.
“Mahigpit ang pagbabantay natin na hindi makapasok sila sa Caticlan. Pag-aaralan din natin ang mga galing Taiwan dahil sa EO No. 4 hindi included ang Taiwan,” Bautista said.
Transiting tourists were ‘intercepted’ in border control checkpoints by Malay task force anti-COVID-19 after learning they had travel history to China, Hong Kong and Macau.
Bautista said 45 Chinese tourists tried to enter a border checkpoint in barangay Caticlan on February 11, but they were denied by the task force.
Local police and health authorities manning the border control checkpoints required travellers to present their passports to identify travel history, and to see whether they have symptoms of coronavirus.
“Titingnan natin ang lifting ng border checkpoints sa Feb. 15 or 16, mga 14 days mula Jan. 31 directive ni President Rodrigo Duterte. Dito na sa Caticlan port ang inspection bago makarating sa Boracay ang mga visitors ayon sa pag-uusap namin ni Governor (Florencio Miraflores),”the acting mayor added.
Bautista said Boracay is safe with no reported persons under investigation (PUIs) as well as no cases of coronavirus. However, the acting mayor admitted the deadly outbreak in China would impact the tourism industry of Boracay Island.
“Malaki ang impact dahil sa Chinese market. Mga 40 percent ang nawala na tourist arrivals sa Boracay dahil sa coronavirus,” he added.
The local task force also reported at least 65 persons under monitoring in Boracay Island as of Feb. 11. These are tourists who travelled to the country before the lockdown imposed by the national government. (With a report from Akean Forum/PN)