No swimming! Boracay navigates life after strict lockdown

Residents of Boracay Island and the rest of Aklan welcomed regained freedom as the province lifted its enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on May 1 and they were finally able to leave their homes. 

They had been on lockdown for more than 5 weeks. Residents were happy to resume some daily activities and attempted to revive the hard-hit local economy even as strict physical distancing rules and the ban on large gatherings remained. 

Many restaurants and fast-food chains in the prime tourist destination reopened but only for takeout and delivery services. Retail shops and hardware stores were selling to customers again. 

Government workers and private sector employees began returning to work, too, but they had to observe the early 8 pm curfew. Students were not allowed to attend physical classes yet. 

Liquor ban stays

There were still too many prohibitions under the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) because the threat of getting infected remained.

The province still had 3 active coronavirus cases, including a new case that was confirmed on Wednesday, May 6, based on the government tracker.

Hotels and other tourism related establishments were not yet allowed to open, except those that have been accommodating  guests with existing long-term bookings, repatriated workers abroad, and healthcare workers. 

Liquor ban remained in place. People were prohibited from taking a dip in the ocean. No picnics allowed, no gym visits. These activities were deemed "non-essential."

Cops would also still check people’s quarantine passes. People can only leave their homes for errands allowed under GCQ. 

When ECQ was lifted on May 1, Aklan governor Florencio Miraflores also reminded the 600,000 residents of the province to wear face masks when they're outside their homes, especially in markets, grocery stores, and pharmacies. 

He said it was vital, especially among pregnant women and residents over the age of 60, to protect themselves from getting infected. 

It was clear to the residents that GCQ meant the province remained in quarantine. 

The governor said he couldn't promise when life would really be back to normal.

Helping local farmers get back on their feet

As residents tried to get back on their feet, the provincial government said it was going to prioritize assistance to local farmers and producers of agricultural crops.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan urged local government units (LGUs) to buy the produce of local farmers and include them in the relief packs they're going to continue to distribute to residents. 

Agriculture committee chairman Emmanuel Soviet Russia dela Cruz said LGUs will also find ways to link farmers and producers in rural communities to potential buyers. 

"The municipalities, through their assigned consolidator or distributor, will buy locally produced agri-products and distribute it within the locality. Farmers are assured that their products will be bought and sold to consumers at a low price," said Dela Cruz. 

During the lockdown, the provincial government launched the 'Palengke on Wheels' program to deliver fresh and affordable produce to many low-income residents without them having to go to the markets. 

The project mobilized a 6-wheeler winged van to haul the farmer's produce and to sell directly to consumers with the help of local government units. 

It's part of the Aklan Sustainable Agricultural Program (AAP) of the Department of Agriculture and the Provincial Agriculture's Office to ensure enough food supply and patronize local produce of farmers during the coronavirus lockdown. –