Aklan may scrap RT-PCR tests for fully vaccinated tourists

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 22 2021 09:37 PM

Boracay reopened to tourists amid the COVID-19 pandemic in this photo taken on October 1, 2020. Stanley Buenafe Gajete/file
Boracay reopened to tourists amid the COVID-19 pandemic in this photo taken on October 1, 2020. Stanley Buenafe Gajete/file

MANILA - Aklan is planning to stop requiring tourists fully vaccinated from COVID-19 in presenting negative RT-PCR test results once the province reaches its immunization target, its governor said. 

In a virtual briefing following a meeting of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores said attaining the goal could be possible by the end of the month or early November. 

Miraflores added that once the requirement is lifted, fully vaccinated tourists from other places in the country would just have to present their vaccination certificate issued by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on top of the usual requirement of confirmed flights and accommodation.

“Our target, together with our mayor Bautista is that once island is fully vaccinated, we will now allow tourists from the other places in the country that are fully vaccinated and we will not already require the PCR test in order to revive our industry," Miraflores said.

"So the requirement for the RT-PCR test will now be removed, and we will just require our tourists to have just the vaccination certificate,” he added. 

“We hope that with this opening up of the island to fully vaccinated tourists will ensure the recovery of island.”

Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, meanwhile, said that at present, Boracay is only open to local tourists, balikbayans, and overseas Filipinos.

She is also pushing that foreigners be eventually allowed to visit Boracay, noting that the decision to open up Boracay to foreigners is up to the IATF.

“We’re so happy na finally we can restart tourism. Tuloy-tuloy na ito pero sana sa ating mga kababayan na excited na lumipad papuntang Boracay, please still, kahit na fully vaccinated kayo or negative kay sa RT-PCR, please follow minimum health and safety protocols," Puyat explained.

"May pandemya pa rin so kailangan nag-iingat so please wear your mask, physical distancing at parating naghuhugas ng kamay,” she added.

VACCINATION IN BORACAY

Puyat said Boracay is expected to meet its target to fully vaccinate its active tourism workers and eligible residents by the end of the month, making Boracay the first fully vaccinated tourist destination in the country.

As of Oct. 19, around 91.96 percent or 11,779 out of the target of 12,809 active tourism frontliners have been vaccinated, she said.

Boracay has also vaccinated 77.87 percent of its eligible population, she added.

A total of 35,100 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine were delivered in Boracay on Thursday.

“We expect by the end of the month, the tourism workers, including the residents will have reached 100 percent vaccination,” Puyat said.

AKLAN RESIDENTS NOT REQUIRED TO PRESENT RT-PCR RESULT

Tourists who are partially vaccinated from COVID-19 who want to enter Boracay would be required to present a negative RT-PCR test, according to Miraflores.

Miraflores said that right now, there is no need for Aklanons going home to Aklan to present a negative RT-PCR test and they only need to present their vaccination certificate or vaccination card.

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“We’re open for business and we would like to invite everybody to visit Boracay. It’s so beautiful right now… We welcome all tourists to come as long as they are fully vaccinated,” he said.

Puyat reminded tourists, meanwhile, to still practice minimum health and safety protocols.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force is committed to pursue rehabilitation efforts just as President Duterte extended the term of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) up to the end of his term on June 30, 2022.