Boracay sand beneath your feet, ready to hit the turquoise waters, do you need to wear a face mask? No when swimming, but everywhere else, you should, when it makes sense, said Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo Puyat.
The centerpiece of Philippine tourism reopened to most of the country on Oct. 1 and tourists are required to test negative for the virus, wear masks, observe at least one-meter physical distancing and wash their hands constantly.
Puyat said she experienced Boracay before it reopened, and virus protocols don't spoil the experience, she told TeleRadyo.
"We are just reminding everybody to keep healthy and stay safe. Pwede i-enjoy ang Boracay hindi kailangan magkakadikit tayo. Pwede naman physical distancing dapat lang maingat tayo (Boracay can be enjoyed even if we are spaced apart. There can be physical distancing and we should be careful)," she said.
Asked if swimmers need to wear masks, she said: "While swimming, hindi naman, baka ang cause of death mo lunod, when it's practical, when it makes sense... When you can, always wear a mask. Best pa din pag safe ka," she said.
Based on guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19, people must always wear masks when going outside the house. When entering commercial establishments or public transport, a face shield must be worn over the face mask.
Should a tourist who tested negative for coronavirus prior to departure exhibit symptoms of the disease during transit or during the stay, he or she will be isolated in facilities at the airport, jetty port and on the island for another test, Puyat said.
When necessary, there is also a bigger isolation facility in Kalibo, on mainland Panay, she said.
Airlines and hotels will refund or rebook tourists who are unable to travel because of their COVID status, she said.