Boracay reopened today, Sept. 8, but where are the tourists?
By the time Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced on his Facebook page last night that Metro Manila was suspending its GCQ with alert levels status, it was too late for Boracay’s businesses,—all of which had been losing money yet again since August—to do a second pivot in 24 hours.
More than 90% of Boracay’s tourists come from Metro Manila, whose quarantine status of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) has been extended until Sept. 15, which means leisure travel is still banned.
Roque announced on Monday, Sept. 6, that Metro Manila would be under general community quarantine (GCQ) with alert levels starting Sept. 8. Granular lockdowns—which may be limited to a street, a subdivision or a city—would be implemented instead of a quarantine classification covering the 16 cities and one municipality that make up the national capital region (NCR).
The province of Aklan on the same day announced that it was also lifting its (MECQ), which it imposed on Aug. 6 when Manila was put under the strictest classification of ECQ.
Starting today, Sept. 8, Boracay is under GCQ and open to tourists. For the first time since Aug. 6, most rules that didn’t make much sense to locals and tourists living here have been lifted, such as no swimming in the beach after 4 p.m.; no dine-in at restaurants, only takeout until 4 p.m.; and all commercial establishments including supermarkets and pharmacies operating only until 4 p.m. The liquor ban imposed since June has also been lifted.
When Malacañang announced the lifting of MECQ for Metro Manila, business owners rejoiced. The hope that things would start getting back to normal was shortlived. Today, D’Mall is still empty and beachfront restaurants have only two or three tables occupied.
In 2020, Boracay lost P57 billion due to the pandemic and lockdown.
Banner and thumbnail photos by Tanya Lara