Negative RT-PCR test results for tourists on Boracay reinstated

Tourists enjoy the beauty of Boracay in this file photo.

EFFECTIVE January 9, 2022, tourists are required to submit a negative RT-PCR test result prior to visiting Boracay Island.  The return of the requirement was contained in Executive Order No. 001-2022 signed by Aklan Governor Florencio T. Miraflores.

While it did not contain the reason for the return of the Covid-19 test requirement, Malay Sangguniang Bayan councilor Nenette Aguirre-Graf told the BusinessMirror in Filipino, “Many tourists arrived who were suspected to be positive [for Covid] because of the symptoms they exhibited. Even locals caught the virus because of their partying. So now they are isolated.”

This was confirmed by Christine Mansinares, Region 6 Director of the Department of Tourism, in a Viber message: “There are tourists who developed symptoms [in Boracay]. Contact tracing is now ongoing.” No data on the number of Covid-affected tourists or locals were made available.

Graf said, “Most of them just stayed at home and self-isolated. Stocks of paracetamol and Bioflu were wiped out on the island. Even I had to donate my spare Bactidol [an oral antiseptic] to my daughter’s friend, who had exhibited symptoms.”

It was just a few weeks ago that Boracay business owners and residents had rejoiced over the growing number of tourists on the island, a result of the lifting of the RT-PCR test requirement. A total of 67,343 visited Boracay in November 2021, and reached 113,596 in December. Total arrivals from January to December 2021 was 330,622, just 1.15 percent shy of the 334,455 in 2020.

Curfew reinstated

As per the new Aklan EO, all tourists and travelers entering the province are required to secure a QR code for contact-tracing purposes.

Tourists are required to fill up the online health declaration card (OHDC) registration at touristboracay.com and submit the negative result of their Covid test “with date of extraction within 72 hours to date of travel.”

They are also required to provide proof of their Philippine residency, a copy of their confirmed hotel booking from a Department of Tourism-accredited accommodation establishment, and round-trip flight details.

Tourists who have been residing within Aklan, however, only need to submit their vaccination certification from the Department of Health, or locally issued vaccination card, in lieu of an RT-PCR test.

Miraflores likewise reinstated the curfew in Boracay, allowing businesses to operate  “from 5 o’clock in the morning until 9 o’clock in the evening.”

Also, he required “all business establishments” on Boracay to scan tourists’ QR codes or copy of their OHDC, before their services are availed. Miraflores  as well “enjoined” accommodation establishments on the island “to assist their clientele in applying for the OHDC QR Code.”

The situation on Boracay resembled that of Metro Manila, which is now under Alert Level 3 after an explosion of Covid cases was recorded, apparently due to the social gatherings over the holiday season.

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