In the past couple of days, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque went viral because of his stay in Boracay and his invitation for the public to visit the newly reopened island. In his press briefing, which was held on the island, he said that it was time for people to take a vacation after months of lockdown.
So, is it really a good idea to take a page out of Roque’s book and escape to the sandy shores of Boracay in the middle of a pandemic?
We still shouldn’t be encouraging non-essential travel
The MalacaÃ±ang prompting tourists to visit Boracay comes after months of the government’s constant reiteration to stay at home and quarantine because of the COVID-19. People brought up just how confusing and harmful this message was when our country still hasn’t beat the virus.
With our daily number of new active COVID-19 cases still in the thousands as of writing and with calls for free mass testing junked by the Supreme Court a few weeks ago, it isn’t hard to understand why it poses so much danger for government officials to encourage people to break quarantine to go on vacation.
While negative COVID-19 test results are required before traveling to Boracay, this still leaves plenty of time for tourists to contract the virus between taking the test and arriving at the island. This is especially concerning as this window of time includes the period in which tourists will have to go to airports and other travel terminals, where they could easily catch and spread the virus.
What about the economy?
Roque said that the reason for enticing the public to visit Boracay is to spur local tourism and protect the livelihood of locals. While it’s more than valid to want to support those whose jobs have been affected by the pandemic, opening the island up to the risks of inviting tourists while the country’s COVID-19 cases are still up may be counterproductive.
Not only will making Boracay more vulnerable to the virus harm the locals, but the potential consequences of reopening the island too early may even discourage people from visiting and supporting the businesses on the island when it is actually safe to do so.
As much we all definitely need a vacation after everything 2020 has thrown at us, the end of the pandemic still isn’t quite in sight. So, maybe delaying those non-essential travel plans is the best way to protect ourselves and each other.