Boracay open to tourists, including kids and elderly, from October 1

The Philippine government will allow tourists from areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) to travel to Boracay Island starting on October 1.

This decision was formalized in Resolution No 74 of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, released to media on Thursday, September 24.

Residents from Western Visayas, the region where Boracay is located, are also allowed to visit the top tourist destination.

Even kids and the elderly can vacation in Boracay.

"Age restrictions for this purpose shall be relaxed. Restrictions as to persons with comorbidities will remain to be strictly enforced," reads Resolution No 74.

Swab test result required

But island-goers will have to get a negative result from a Reverse Transcription Polymerace Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) swab test.

Tourists need to get tested "not earlier than 48 hours prior to the date of travel." They are also "strongly advised" to go into quarantine right after undergoing the test and until their date of departure for Boracay.

The Godofredo P Ramos Airport in Caticlan will be the sole port of entry for tourists arriving by airplane.

"A central point shall be established to screen tourists traveling by land, air, or sea," said the IATF-EID.

Coronavirus health protocols like mask-wearing and physical distancing will be strictly enforced in the island which must have a COVID-19 laboratory.

Different rules for Boracay

Allowing GCQ and MGCQ tourists in Boracay, which is under the MGCQ classification, is a departure from the overall rule that persons from an area under a stricter quarantine classification can't travel to an area under a looser classification unless they are authorized.

But it seems government made an exception for Boracay given its local economy's dependence on tourism. The Department of Tourism is trying out a "tourism bubbles" concept where certain tourist hot spots can be gradually opened for leisure travel as long as entry is regulated and health protocols enforced.

The different rules for Boracay also stems from the authority of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force which has the power to "regulate travel... for purposes of tourism," reads Resolution No 74.

The Boracay task force's powers have been extended until May 2021 by President Rodrigo Duterte.

In charge of rehabilitating the island after a 6-month closure ordered by Duterte in 2018, the task force still needs to complete critical projects like water drainage system improvement, rehabilitation of its circumferential road, and demolition of illegal structures. ā€“ Rappler.com