The quarantine will be lifted in Aklan, Philippines, on Saturday. It’s a day we are happy to see.
This province has been declared “low risk” for COVID-19. There were only a few cases in the last two months, and the local government has diligently worked at tracing and monitoring.
So this means we can do whatever we want, right?
Quarantine lifted in Aklan
‘New Normal’ rules
Things will be more like ‘normal’ — but this is the ‘New Normal’ – the new reality after the coronavirus pandemic.
The new rules for this part of the Philippines are more like common sense precautions:vWe must wear masks and practice social distancing. That’s it. It’s advisable to have hand sanitizer always at the ready, and properly wash your hands.
All of us (me, Tedly, and his mom Diane) will be able to come and go as we please from our apartment rental at the Hangout Beach Resort. We have often said over the last two months that we want to explore this area — Diane loves to hike and Tedly has longed to kick around White Sand Beach on Boracay with a beer in hand.
Wherever we might go locally, we won’t be going much further than than just yet. There are still too many unknowns.
Logistical issue: Visas
Tedly and I came to the Philippines in November on tourist visas. Mom Diane came in December. The pandemic put all visa issues on hold, without penalty.
I found an official order that states will have 30 days to file a visa extension once the “Enhanced Community Quarantine” was lifted. This was written before the intermediate “General Community Quarantine” was issued, which we are under until Saturday. So did our 30 days start a few weeks ago? Or this coming Saturday?
Logically, the clock would start ticking on Saturday, since we couldn’t travel to a Bureau of Immigration Office (BI). But I cannot find it writing anywhere. And this ambiguous understanding won’t do for any travel plans within, to or from any foreign country.
When we do eventually leave, we will need an emigration clearance certificate. Tedly and I must have an ECC to leave, because we will have been here six months as of next week. The ECC takes three days to issue. It’s good for 30 days.
Expats we met who live on Negros Island told us the only BI offices to get these ECC forms are in Cebu or Manila.
That’s another logistical issue. It would take a few days with buses and ferries to get back to Cebu, which is where we started in November.
Also — Cebu City is still locked down!
Cebu & Manila still under quarantine
Cebu and Manila are still under Enhanced Community Quarantine — the most strict type. So even if we journeyed to Cebu, we can’t simply show up at the immigration office.
Interestingly, while these two larges Philippine cities are under quarantine, news reports say their airports are supposed to start accepting foreign flights on May 16.
Also interestingly, I cannot yet find any information about when the Caticlan airport near us will reopen for casual travel in this New Normal.
The map below clearly shows the regions that are under ECQ, GCQ, and simply the New Normal. The darkest blue to the north is Manila; the darkest spec to the south is Cebu.
I placed a bullseye on our location, the area of Malay on the northern part of Panay Island, across a channel to Boracay Island. (Boracay is part of Malay, in Aklan Province, in the Visaya region.)
And for anyone who wants more information on what these specific quarantine classes mean, an article by CNN Philippines breaks it down efficiently.
A note about tropical depression Ambo
The 2020 Pacific typhoon season has its first named storm: Ambo. As of this writing, it’s a tropical depression forecast to make land Thursday and Friday to the east of our location.
It will dump some rain on us, and we might have rough sea, but that’s about it. Good thing! This area took a direct hit in December 2019 – in a storm we felt on Cebu Island. (It was a freak out-of-season storm.)
That said, if we lose power, and we suddenly stop posting every day — you’ll know why. We plan to keep devices fully charged, download books (plural), get laundry done, etc.
We had planned to leave the Philippines around this time – just as typhoon season started. Our plan was to miss all the storm drama.
Hey — you know how to make God chuckle, right? Make plans!
Thanks for reading, “Quarantine lifted in Aklan, Philippines!”
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