Borders have been closed since the scare of the COVID-19 began.
If some cities and provinces have extended the no-sail and no-fly policy in their areas, Siargao island did otherwise. On May 1, Gov. Francisco T. Matugas, in his Memorandum Order 20-130, lifted the no-sail policy for inter-island boats and vessels in Surigao del Norte travelling “to and from Siargao (including Bucas Grande Island) and Dinagat Province.”
Unlike most cities and provinces, this lifting of their no-sail policy raised fears amongst tourist operators in the island. The fear of possible positive cases is creeping in them since Siargao has reopened their borders.
Siargao, like most provinces and cities, closed their borders sometime in March until the 1st of May.
However, the Siargao Island Tourism Operators Association (STOA) – in its appeal letter dated May 3 addressed to Agusan del Norte Governor Dale Corvera, chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force-Caraga – said the airport and seaports of the whole island should still be closed.
Because Siargao is still COVID-FREE as of writing, residents are also worried ever since the resumption of the trips.
Sermonia suggested that boat passengers should not be allowed yet until further safety nets, facilities, and testing kits are set up.
“With the opening of ports, the threat that COVID-19 can enter the island becomes very real again,” he said.
He also added that the people in Siargao have been practicing the spirit of bayanihan through initiatives like helping those in need, building community gardens and farms, and helping each other keep afloat during this tourism crisis.
“Many of the inhabitants sacrificed and abided by the Enhanced Community Quarantine guidelines by staying home to [help prevent the] spread of the disease. Opening the ports without further preparation and planning could put all of these efforts to waste,” he added.
“We are appealing for temporary reconsideration of the no-sail policy until we can further prepare for the eventuality should the dreaded virus come to the island. The reinstatement of the no-sail policy would buy some time to fortify the island’s defenses against this unseen threat that is devastating the whole world,” he ended.