Boracay Island

Aklan no longer requires RT-PCR tests for vaccinated returning residents

Jun Aguirre
Aklan no longer requires RT-PCR tests for vaccinated returning residents

Boracay Island, Philippines. File photo from Shutterstock

Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores advisory also allows returning residents to submit proof of being fully vaccinated in lieu of negative RT-PCR test results

Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores on Thursday, October 21, issued an advisory allowing returning residents to submit proof of being fully vaccinated in lieu of negative real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results.

The same advisory also suspended the submission of an S-PASS form for travelers bound for Aklan and its famous white-sand island Boracay. He said the suspension will last until concerned national agencies issue new guidelines.

The Safe, Swift and Smart Passage (S-PASS) form is the online travel management system managed by the Department of Science and Technology used for domestic travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Miraflores’ order followed his Tuesday, October 18, announcement that he would ask the Boracay Inter Agency Task Force (BIATF) to also lift RT-PCR test requirements for fully-vaccinated arrivals on the famous island in Malay town.

The governor issued the October 21 advisory on the same day the Malay police said the BIATF was scheduled to have a closed-door meeting with with national officials, including National Economic Development Authority Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua, DENR Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo, and DSWD Assistant Secretary Rhea Penaflor, among others.

While Boracay is part of Aklan province, it has some leeway in deciding health and environment protocols to maintain its status as one of the world’s premier tourism destinations.

Miraflores told a meeting of the provincial IATF that he would also ask the BIATF to push for the relaxation of the quarantine classification of the province from General Community Quarantine (GCQ) to Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) starting November 1 onwards.

The governor’s office also said the Department of Tourism on October 16 approved the province’s appeal to allow children and senior citizens to visit Boracay.

“We have been receiving requests from fully vaccinated tourists to remove the RT PCR requirement. We are considering this. What we hope to achieve is to implement a vaccine bubble passport for fully vaccinated tourists in Boracay,” Miraflores said after the IATF meeting.

The governor said the province’s move was in keeping with changes to national IATF policies approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.

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Aklan governor wants seniors, children to visit Boracay

Over a two-week period, from October 6 to 20, the whole province only had 99 new cases, with the last week seeing only a single digit in daily new cases, the Department of Health Western Visayas (Region 6) COVID-19 tracker showed. The Provincial Health Office reported that as of October 20 Aklan only had 66 active cases.

This is a far cry from the July and August figures, which hit three-digits daily, making Aklan one of worst-hit provinces in the region.

Until September 7, Aklan was under modified enhanced community quarantine, the second strictest quarantine level. This curtailed travel outside of essential activities.

Aklan and Boracay started accepting regional tourists starting September 8 but flights to Caticlan airport, in Malay, only resumed on September 15. –Rappler.com