Boracay in the new normal: What your stay will look like amid the COVID-19 pandemic

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Just like other places around the globe, the world-renowned tourist destination is abiding by the ‘new normal’ in travel— with strict health and safety protocols in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 17)— World-class beach destination Boracay recently reopened to local tourists— but this time, a trip to the island won’t mirror your previous stays or preconceived notions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Forget crowded shores or beach parties. Just like other places around the globe, the renowned tourist spot is abiding by the “new normal” in travel— with strict health and safety protocols in place to curb the spread of the viral disease.

What will your stay in Boracay look like in the time of coronavirus? CNN Philippines spoke to Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat to learn more.

Contactless transactions

To prevent physical contact, commercial establishments and other industries have gone digital when it comes to payments and transactions. Services in Boracay are no exception.

Upon entering the island, guests will be given a QR code for faster, contactless processes. The code will also be used for the medical declaration forms.

Standard health protocols

A COVID-19 hotline will also be in place to cater to guests’ possible health concerns. Meanwhile, individuals with high temperatures will be brought to the nearest hospital. If a person tests positive for coronavirus, he or she will be transported out of the island immediately.

Face masks will also be provided for guests, while hand sanitizers and alcohols will also be available in accommodations and establishments.

Physical distancing shall also be strictly observed. Authorities have also placed foot markings along the island to make sure guests follow the rule.

Reduced operations, limited guests

For now, the island is only accepting tourists from the Western Visayas region. The move is seen as a “dry run,” with authorities still studying the possibility of opening Boracay’s doors to other low-risk COVID-19 areas.

Under quarantine rules, tourists above 60 years old and below 21 years old are still prohibited from entering the island.

“Not many people or hotels are wanting to open because it’s only for Western Visayas,” Puyat said in an interview with The Source. She added that as of Wednesday, only 91 hotels have signified that they wanted to resume operations.

Activities involving close physical contact will likewise be prohibited, the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force earlier announced. However, authorities have yet to specify what these activities are.

Same brand of service

Despite the new measures, the Tourism department assured that a Boracay trip will still let guests experience the same brand of customer service the Philippines has long been known for.

“Even with all the safety protocols in place, you still felt the Filipino brand of service, people were so warm,” Puyat added.

Breach of protocols?

The DOT said it has also revoked the accreditation of a resort which housed a group that supposedly breached quarantine protocols after visiting the island prior to its official opening.

Local officials said they have initiated contact tracing measures, while staff and management of the resort are now under quarantine.