A surge in COVID-19 cases has led to parts of Boracay locked down for Holy Week this year.
It is normally the busiest time of year for resort island in the Philippines.
Boracay locked down for Holy Week
Boracay business owners were just beginning to see an upswing in domestic tourism, and were looking forward more tourists for the most popular time of the year. A predominantly Catholic nation, many Filipinos traditionally take a holiday around Easter.
But the beaches are practically empty, businesses closed, and now – the army is stationed in some places to enforce the lockdowns.
The official count of active cases comes from the Local Government Unit of Malay Municipality (LGU Malay) and, which has jurisdiction over Boracay. In just a few days, the number of active cases has dramatically increased.
LGU Malay posts its official updates to its Facebook page. The graphic below is from that source.
Note the Balabag case numbers. Balabag barangay (neighborhood) is roughly the middle section of the island, where the famous White Beach is found.
More cases trigger Boracay lockdown
First, LGU Malay tried surgical lockdowns. Sections of barangays were closed where COVID cases had been found.
But then, as case numbers increased, it was announced late Wednesday night local time that Balabag would be under “Enhanced Community Quarantine” (ECQ).
What is ECQ? The strictest community restrictions in the Philippine system. Basically, it’s a nice way of saying lockdown.
It’s what we faced when we were “stuck” on the mainland in Malay more than one year ago.
Recently, before this surge, Manila had been placed on various levels of lockdowns. Most of the tourists who came to Boracay in recent months have been domestic tourists, and mostly from Manila.
Now, for the next couple of weeks at least, bookings have been canceled. Either people in Manila are in the lockdown zones and cannot travel to Boracay, or people have decided they don’t want to come at this time.
The Balabag lockdown, and ‘surgical’ ManocManoc lockdown (parts of another neighborhood on the island) expire midnight April 14, as of April 1.
However, Boracay itself is “officially” open. If you are a tourist and want to visit, there is a lengthy procedure and it will be easier to simply point you to the Boracay hotline instead of my laying it all out here.
The hotline number is in the graphic below, from the Malay Tourism Facebook page.