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Balancing act: Palace says Boracay’s reopening doesn’t mean end of COVID-19 threat

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Malacañang on Monday clarified that the reopening of Boracay Island did not mean that the country is already safe from the threat of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

In a virtual Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the reopening of the famous beach island would support tourism industry workers and businesses amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Well, it means that kinakailangan balansehin talaga natin iyong katotohanan na kinakailangan magtrabaho na iyong mga nagtatrabaho sa sektor ng turismo na pupuwede namang mangyari kung pangangalagaan natin ang ating kalusugan (We need to balance with the reality that workers of the tourism sector must now resume work, and it is possible as long as we take care of our health),” he said.

Starting October 1, Boracay will be open to visitors, from areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) or lower, after testing negative for Covid-19.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the resumption of tourism businesses on the resort-island would be “calibrated” with several measures in place.

She said the reopening of Boracay signals the “gathering momentum for domestic tourism all over the country”.

‘Love is not tourism’

Following the Love is Not Tourism movement made by unmarried, long-distance couples to allow governments to relax travel restrictions and allow them to reunite, Roque said he will bring the matter up before the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

“Well, love is not tourism, I agree po. I will bring this up to the IATF because it is the IATF that will make that decision,” he said.

Currently, only foreign nationals married to Filipinos are allowed to enter the country upon presentation of their marriage certificates.

He also encouraged concerned parties to raise their concern before the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“Subukan ninyo po, sumulat po kayo kay Undersecretary (Brigado) Dulay ng DFA, at pupuwede naman po siguro iyong mga fiancé visa ay pupuwedeng makiusap kay Usec (You can try writing to Undersecretary Dulay of the DFA and perhaps those with fiancé visas may be allowed),” he said.

He said granting entry permits on a case to case basis is within the power of DFA. (PNA)