Samal Island to put in place stricter measures as it reopens to tourists in July

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 9 June) – Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) Mayor Al David T. Uy said the local government has prepared stricter health security measures to ensure the safety of the visitors amid the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic as it reopens at limited capacity next month.

The Island Garden City of Samal plans to reopen to tourists in July at 50% capacity. MindaNews file  PHOTO BY MANMAN DEJETO

Uy said the local government would put in place more health screenings in various barangays across the island, most especially those areas with many public and private resorts, specifically Barangays Camudmud, Caliclic, Aundanao, and Talicud Islands.

Samal has a total of 200 resorts, he said.

He added that Department of Tourism (DOT)-Davao Director Tanya R. Tan had reached out to the local government last week regarding the safety measures that must be in place by the island and the resort owners to be allowed to operate in July.

Uy said the IGACOS is preparing for the possible influx of tourists but maintained that the resorts would be operating at 50 percent capacity while the local government is planning to regulate the entry of visitors to the island to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

He said the resort owners are required to go through the requirements set by the DOT-Davao to ensure the safety of the tourists such as the setting up of health protocols, including, among others, sanitizers, non-contact thermal scanners, and foot bath.

The mayor said that at present, the local government only allows entry of returning IGACOS residents, who are stranded in different parts of the country, but only after being rigorously subjected to health screening.

“On our part, parallel with DOT, those requirements should be met for the safety of tourists,” he said.

The mayor said the local government would soon assign a QR code to all visitors of the island, so that it would be easier to monitor movement around Samal Island and to make contact tracing more efficient should they test positive for COVID-19.

“If you test positive for COVID-19, we will know the patient who must be isolated, including their close contacts, and the areas they have visited [within the island],” he said.

Uy said they are also looking at strengthening the health protocols at the port of entries of IGACOS.

“Eventually, we will slowly allow the entries of those who have properties and businesses in Samal once we have the QR tracking system,” he said.

But Uy added that he would not hesitate to delay the reopening of the island once he sees the needed health protocols are not yet put in place by the resorts to prevent a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases.

The mayor said the IGACOS at present has three active COVID-19 cases. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)