Samal Island still puts high restrictions on tourism activities
DAVAO DEL NORTE, Sept. 7 (PIA) – The Island Garden City of Samal government still hoists high its guards against transmission and infection of COVID-19 due to limited health facilities.
Guesting at today’s Radyo Pilipinas #LagingHanda Network Briefing anchored by Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Samal Mayor Al David T. Uy explained why he still keeps restrictive policies on entry of tourists to Samal.
“Dili man gyud mi mag kumpyansa Sir. (We couldn’t get complacent Sir),” he said responding to the query of Radio 911 Anchor, Edward Macapili who was invited to tandem Secretary Andanar in running the question and answer portion of today’s Network Briefing episode.
Without mentioning the specific place, Uy cited as example the move of a local government unit (LGU) to immediately open borders to influx of tourists. Violations on health protocols were later found committed inside the resorts. As a result, resort workers contracted COVID-19, Uy revealed without giving details regarding the circumstance of such transmission.
Mayor Uy also cited the case of the United States where entertainment facilities and beach resorts were opened resulting to soaring number of COVID-19 cases.
“Sa Samal ngayon talagang binabantayan pa rin ang threat ng COVID, kasi nga alam naman natin na mabilis ang pag spread ng COVID (In Samal, we are keeping a close watch on threats of COVID-19 because we know how fast COVID can spread), and we have very limited healthcare facilities and we still rely on Davao City and neighboring LGUS,” he explained.
Island Garden City of Samal has two hospitals, one of which is the provincial government-run Samal District Hospital. Mayor Uy looked back the time in June this year when one of the hospitals was closed as workers got exposed to a COVID-19 positive patient .
“We had then seen the threat. That is what we want to avoid, so opening of the tourism industry is done gradually especially so that we still don’t have the vaccine,” he explained.
Uy instead puts focus on prevention, on contact-tracing and on sustaining quarantine and isolation facilities.
Along with the rest of LGUs in Davao del Norte, Samal has long been placed under modified general Community quarantine (MGCQ) with its new period covering August 28 to September 15.
Samal still prohibits island hopping, scuba diviing, trekking and other eco-tourism activities. It is still enforces curfew hours from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.; hoists the 24-hour liquor ban; and still runs strict implementation of the minimum health protocols.
Only those beach resorts with provisional certificate of authority from the Department of Tourism (*DOT) are allowed to operate provided they adhere to the policy on “No Booking-No QR Code-No Entry”, and that resorts are allowed to operate at 50% capacity only.
“We have hotline to facilitate bookings; once they are booked in certain resort the city will issue QR code and once in Samal, we would be able to detect their entry and their exit,” he said.
However, tourists can only stay within the resort they are booked, as they are prohibited from roaming around the island city.
On top of keeping a ready supply of COVID-19 test kits, Samal is taking heightened policy on contact-tracing which the city government started running in April this year alongside community monitoring.
“Ito yong sa tingin ko pinaka importante natin sa ngayon especially in LGUs na dinadagsa ng mga turista. (These are what I view as very important for LGUs with influx of tourists.),” he said referring to contact-tracing and community monitoring.
Meanwhile, Mayor Uy is also making sure that COVID-19 patients stay at comfortable places to prevent depression from setting in their psyche while in isolation.
He revealed that the city government has rented inns and resorts being used as quarantine and isolation facilities.
He noted COVID-19 patients to have recovered fast while staying in isolation facilities located by the beach. (Jeanevive Duron-Abangan/PIAXI)