Boracay residents allowed to limited swimming

Hotel employees in Boracay Island prepare for their reopening under the “new normal” which will include physical distancing and hygiene measures in the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. (Tiffany Marie Somes)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan and Emme Rose Santiagudo

Residents of Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan can enjoy swimming in its world-renowned beaches once again, as the town, along with the rest of the province, slid to Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) to June 1, 2020.

In a message to Daily Guardian, Malay Acting Mayor Frolibar Bautista clarified that the swimming policies on the island were limited to residents only.

Bautista said that tourists are still prohibited from travelling to the island indefinitely and that the date of the Boracay’s reopening has yet to be discussed with Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores.

“We have assigned eight swimming areas located at Station 1 (3), Station 2 (2), Station 3 (2), and one at Brgy. Yapak. Six of the eight swimming areas nag-accept na ng mga tourists. We will open two more this week,” he said in a separate phone interview on Monday.

The town’s official Facebook page announced guidelines for the resumption of swimming activities in the island under the MGCQ.

The guidelines set the following rules:

–             Swimmers must register at the lifeguard stations of the designated swimming areas;

–             Body temperature will be taken before entering the swimming area;

–             Physical distancing of two meters between every person must be observed;

–             Swimmers must use their own goggles and snorkeling masks (renting is prohibited); and

–             Swimming will only be allowed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Swimming is only limited to the following designated areas:

–             Station 1 (in front of White House, Willy’s Rock, and Elizalde Compound);

–             Station 2 (in front of D’Mall and Mandarin Hotel);

–             Station 3 (in front of La Carmela de Boracay and Paradise Garden); and

–             Barangay Yapak (Puka Beach).

Bautista said beach viewing sunbathing will be allowed in between the 200-meter swimming areas.

The mayor issued Executive Order (EO) No. 027 Series of 2020 on May 31, placing Malay under the MGCQ from June 1 to 15, 2020.

Under the EO, individuals and group outdoor exercises including non-contact sports such as swimming, golf, tennis, and the likes shall be allowed provided that minimum public health standards shall be strictly observed.

Meanwhile, all business establishments and tourism-related establishments shall be subjected to an inspection of a composite team of the local government of Malay before allowed to operate.

No business operation shall be allowed in Malay without a certificate to operate issued by the local chief executive.

The EO also required hotels and resorts to comply with rules set by the Department of Tourism, especially in enforcing social distancing and hygiene measures.

Boracay Island was first place under Enhanced Community Quarantine on March 19, 2020 and gradually eased by May.

The community quarantine measures were implemented in response to the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).