Samal off limits to tourists from June 1 to 14 as precautionary measure vs COVID-19

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 May) – The tourist destination Island Garden City of Samal is off limits to tourists from June 1 to 14 “as a precautionary measure to prevent uncontrollable surge of COVID-19 transmission,” Mayor Al David Uy said.

The Island Garden City of Samal is off limits to tourists from June 1 to 14 as precautionary measure vs COVID-19″ MindaNews FILE PHOTO BY MANMAN DEJETO

Uy issued Executive Order 291 on Sunday, suspending for two weeks the operation of “all resorts” whether beach or inland, private gatherings and parties in private resorts and establishments “due to the continuous surge” of COVID-19 in the city and in neighboring local government units.

Most of the tourists enter the city from Davao City, where a surge in cases is happening.

At least 130 resorts are expected to be affected by the EO, according to Tourism regionaldirector Tanya Rabat-Tan.

Tan said she respects the decision of the local government to temporarily suspend resort operations as a precautionary measure.

The EO provides for an exception: DOT-star-rated resorts “may continue to operate as certified by the DOT to have passed the Staycation Program of the DOT.“

Pearl Farm is the only star-rated resort in Samal City,  according to Tan. Three others – Club Samal Resort, The Buenavista Island Resort and Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort have staycation certificates from DOT.

The local government also temporarily discontinued pre-bookings with private resorts and establishments until further notice. Confirmed bookings and approved Tourist QR codes will be cancelled.

According to the mayor, the island is frequented by many tourists on summer outings, gatherings and other celebrations, which are a potential source of COVID-19 transmission.

The mayor emphasized the need to “balance public safety with economic recovery to protect the people against COVID-19 transmission.”

The local government expressed concern that clustering of COVID-19 cases has been observed due to the conduct of events, transmission in the market, workplace and such other areas.

“To prevent it from turning into full-blown community transmission in the market, it is imperative for the City Government to institute preventive measures,” the order said.

The mayor assured that affected resort workers will be assisted by the local government through the “Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers” (TUPAD) program, a community-based package of assistance of Department of Labor and Employment that “provides emergency employment for displaced workers, underemployed and seasonal workers, for a minimum period of 10 days, but not to exceed a maximum of 30 days, depending on the nature of work to be performed.”

The tourist police, Samal Task Force, Philippine Coast Guard, barangay officials and City Tourism and Investment Office have been directed to monitor all resorts and tourism establishments and ensure compliance with the suspension order.

As of May 30, the Department of Health-Davao reported a total of 27,811 COVID- cases, 2,960 active, 23,749 recoveries, and 1,102 deaths in the region.

Davao del Norte, where Samal City is, accounted for 5,222 cases or plus 84 new cases from the day before.  (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)