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Tourism workers in Boracay to receive coronavirus jabs by July 7

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BORACAY Island will start receiving its share of Covid-19 vaccines next week as part of government’s initiative to inoculate tourism workers.

In a Viber message to the BusinessMirror, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said National Task Force on Covid-19 (NTF) Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. and NTF Deputy Implementer Vivencio Dizon “allotted 3,000 doses upon the request of the DOT [Department of Tourism].” The vaccines will be turned over the Municipal Health Office, she added, and be allocated to 3,000 workers “identified by the private sector.” She said their second doses would arrive in another shipment.

In a meeting with the island’s tourism and business groups on Thursday, Romulo Puyat encouraged them and the Malay municipal office to ramp up the registration of workers. Tourism workers are now included under the A4 Priority List of the government’s vaccination program.

According to the tourism associations, there are currently 5,000 workers in Boracay’s hotels and restaurants. Municipal Mayor Frolibar Bautista reported during the meeting there were also 7,000 tourism frontliners in various cooperatives on the island. Frontliners include boat pilots, tricycle drivers, vendors in souvenir shop, massage therapists, among others.

Romulo Puyat said some resorts like Discovery Shores had apparently purchased Moderna vaccines already for their workers. “So we want a real headcount how many tourism workers still need vaccines, so the NTF knows how much more vaccines to send to the island,” she stressed.

At present, Boracay has been inoculating its residents in the A1-A3 priority listing with vaccines coming from the Aklan provincial government. Mayor Bautista and private stakeholders earlier requested the national government and the DOT for vaccines good for 40,000 islanders.

In a bid to push domestic tourism and speed up the reopening to foreign tourists, the DOT has been requesting for vaccine allocations for A4 tourism frontliners in key destinations. On June 16, Panglao Island received its first 10,000 doses of Sputnik V and Sinovac from the NTF. (See, “Island destinations gear up for entry of foreign tourists,” in the BusinessMirror, June 21, 2021.)

Meanwhile, Romulo Puyat assured Boracay Island is still open to visitors despite the province of Aklan being put under general community quarantine (GCQ).

She cited Section H of Resolution 124 of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, to wit: “Point-to-Point travel to areas under [GCQ] and Modified [GCQ] shall be allowed without age restrictions subject to an RT-PCR test-before-travel requirement for those below 18 years old and above 65, and other protocols and restrictions as may be imposed by the [Department of Tourism] and the Local Government Unit of destination.”

As such, residents from Metro Manila can still travel to Boracay for their vacations, she said, adding that those between 18 and 65 years old are also required to be tested before traveling.

In the first half of the year, 74,397 domestic tourists visited Boracay, down some 75.5 percent from the same period in 2020. The bulk of the visitors this year was recorded in June at 26,354, a huge jump from the 81 who visited in June 2020.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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