The resort town of Panglao, one of Bohol’s top tourism draws, has started preparations for the possible reopening of tourism-related businesses which have been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Panglao Mayor Leonila Montero, they continued to draft guidelines for the slew of tourism-related and hospitality industry businesses in the town whose operations have been forced to a grinding halt.
“Naa g’yud nay limitations. Before they can open their resort, mahuman na nato og panday ang dos and don’ts, labina sa health protocol,” she said.
The mayor said they are submitting their proposal for the reopening to Governor Art Yap, Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police.
Montero hopes that businesses such as hotels, dive shops will resume by Sunday “if all goes well,” saying that guidelines for the reopening are expected to be finalized on Thursday.
The resumption of diving and other water activities will allow small-scale motorbanca operators to restart their livelihood.
Restaurants meanwhile are undergoing thorough health inspection to ensure their compliance with safety protocols such as the installation of foot baths and arrangement of tables and markings in observance of physical distancing rules.
“The restaurants cannot open without inspection sa atoang Municipal Health Office kay aron ma observe g’yud ang distancing,” she said.
Panglao, alongside Tagbilaran City, is the top food destination in the province with a variety of restaurant selections that draw both visitors and locals.
Based on guidelines set by the provincial government, restaurants are already allowed to reopen for dine-in service given that they only fill up their total capacity by 30 percent. Prior to that, food establishments were permitted to only offer deliveries.
“Manga taw ron ganahan naman mokaon og di monggos ug di na salmon. Naa may mga Bol-anon na maka afford na ganahan na mo dung sa nagkalaing restaurants labina sa Panglao,” said Montero.
Reopening of Bohol
DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat earlier cited Bohol and Boracay as two “tourist havens” that could reopen for tourism activities as the nation tries to resuscitate its slumping tourism industry.
However, Yap said that he had told Puyat that Bohol will not reopen until the province has an “efficient system” for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing and contact tracing.
“Unless these two are in place, I don’t think Bohol is in that position to gamble,” Yap said.
As Boracay reopened, Yap noted that Bohol has different “considerations” compared with the tourist island in Western Visayas.
The governor said that they are planning to establish PCR testing laboratories in key entry points of the province such as the Bohol Panglao International Airport in Panglao and seaports in Tagbilaran City, Getafe, Talibon, Ubay and Jagna.
So far, Bohol has one PCR machine at the Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital in Tagbilaran City but has yet to be used pending an approval from the Department of Health and the arrival of other equipment for the hospital’s molecular laboratory. (A. Doydora)