Gov’t eyes Bohol as ‘new normal’ model in tourism – Sec. Galvez

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Photo by Mark Cristino

TAGBILARAN – The chief implementer of the National Action Plan against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Ret. General Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government is considering Bohol as model for the “new normal” because of its success in curbing cases of Covid-19 in the province.

This was disclosed during his visit to Bohol, Saturday, May 23 to monitor the status of the government’s response to the pandemic and to consult with local officials of their situation.   He admitted that if the situation remains the same in the coming weeks, the tourism sector in Bohol may gradually reopen its doors for tourists in July, being one of the popular tourist destinations in the country.

Bohol is known for its beaches, panoramic Chocolate Hills, medieval churches and the exotic Philippine tarsier. In 2018, more than 1.4 million local and foreign tourists visited the province. Despite the booming commercial and industrial development in Cebu and nearby Visayas provinces, Bohol has remained largely an agricultural province.

Galvez said during the briefing “Nasa GCQ (general community quarantine) po kayo, baka mapunta na kayo sa MGCQ (modified general community quarantine), ibig sabihin malapit na kayo sa new normal at sana maging modelo ang Bohol” (You are already in the GCQ and maybe later to the MGCQ, it means you are near the “new normal and we hope Bohol is our model). 

Under the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force (AITF) for Emerging Infectious Disease, amusement, gaming and fitness establishments as well as those in the kids’ and tourism industries are disallowed in areas under GCQ.

So far, Bohol has two confirmed cases of Covid-19 positive.  One was in January 2020, involving a 60-year old Chinese woman who was sent back to China after being confined in a local hospital.  The other one was about four months later in May 13 when one of the 65 repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) was tested positive.  After the Chinese woman incident, Bohol had strictly implemented all the safety rules set by the AITF and by the Department of Health.

Sec. Galvez and his deputy, Usec. Vince Dizon also brought along with them 500 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing machine for the Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital in Tagbilaran City to augment the testing capacity of the province.  They said the government planned to establish a Covid-19 testing laboratory at the Bohol-Panglao International Airport. 

“It will be an absolute necessity now for all international airports to have their own laboratory, and Bohol is a top priority because of the strength of the tourist industry in Bohol,” Galvez finally said.

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