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What will the ‘new normal’ be like for Boracay?

After travel restrictions were implemented worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Boracay Island looked more like paradise as it took a break from tourists.

It was only on June 16 when Boracay Island reopened to guests. However, for now, only visitors from Western Visayas were allowed entry.

On the latest episode of “Quarantours,” Rhinna, a Boracay resident for almost 20 years now, showed what the new normal was like on the island.

Rhinna said when Boracay was placed under enhanced community quarantine, life on the island became simpler.

“Nag-alaga kami ng mga manok para may pang-ulam kami. Para hindi na kami lalabas. Ito na ’yung pang-ulam namin,” she said.

Residents also began planting vegetables and picking fruits.

On June 1, swimming was again allowed in Boracay.

According to the episode, the Department of Tourism said the province of Aklan lost P11.3 billion due to the lockdown.

Thousands of workers in hotels and restaurants had complained and suffered as they lost their jobs.

One of them was Flor Abragan who was a staff member in a resort hotel.

“Mahirap. Mahirap ang kalagayan namin dito na wala kaming trabaho,” Flor shared.

“Kasi parehas kami ng asawa ko na nawalan ng trabaho kasi maraming nagsara dito na mga hotel. Halos lahat. Restaurant din. Nagsara din. Tapos may dalawa pa akong anak. Tapos may ginagatas pa ako,” she added.

But they found hope when authorities finally reopened Boracay.

In one of the popular restaurants in Boracay, their breakfast food and famous calamansi muffins had been made available for takeout and delivery.

The restaurant manager said they had filed a permit to resume their dine-in operations amid the new normal.

“We’re waiting for those composite team na mag-conduct ng inspection ba, para mabigyan kami ng certification to operate for dine-in,” the manager said.

Meanwhile, only six hotels in Boracay were given accreditation by the DOT to operate.

The hotels observed strict safety protocols, including social distancing, temperature check, footbath, and “no mask, no entry” rule.

Their staff also wore protective gear, including face shields, gloves, and masks.

“Every 20 minutes, we’re going to sanitize our hands. We change our gloves. And our face masks,” one of the hotel staff said.

Even at the hotel’s restaurant, they made sure to follow strict safety protocols. Instead of the usual breakfast buffet, the staff now served a big tray of food to their customers.

Boracay also set strict guidelines for swimmers.

According to Rhinna, areas with red flags are non-swimming areas.

Resort guests were required to register their name, address, and cell phone number for faster tracing in case someone tested positive.

Guests should wear masks while registering but they could take it off when they go swimming.

“Before kayo pupunta dito, with face mask po tayo. Yung rules naman dito, ma’am, ’pag no registration, no swimming po. Bawal kayo maligo pag hindi kayo nag-register dito sa lifeguard station,” the lifeguard said.

While swimming, guests should still observe physical distancing. If one was found violating the rule, lifeguards would call them out on their megaphone.

The episode also showed how Boracay looked as pristine as it did in the ’80s.

Last week, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año ordered the relief of Bureau of Fire Protection-Region VI personnel over the alleged breach of quarantine protocols on Boracay Island.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the staff involved did not hold a conference but a “despedida party.” – RC, GMA News