LOCAL POLITICAL units of areas with popular tourist destinations are imposing restricted entry rules amid the continued threat of the novel coronavirus.

In Boracay, one of the country’s most popular island destinations, the municipal government of Malay issued an order on Friday preventing the entry of all persons with travel history from China, Macau, and Hong Kong for the past 14 days.

Malay Acting Mayor Frolibar S. Bautista signed the executive order after the town council passed a resolution on Thursday giving him authority to do so.

Madel Joy T. Tayco Nurse II of the Municipal Health Office of Malay and spokesperson of the town’s inter-agency task force said the Malay council adapted the resolution initially passed by the inter-agency task force on Wednesday.

Following the order, border patrols will be deployed at the town’s boundaries to check the travel history of visitors. The patrol teams will be composed of members of the police, military, Department of Tourism, and the Municipal Health Office (MHO).

Madel Joy T. Tayco of the MHO said the policy is intended to keep Boracay Island free from the coronavirus.

“Even without the flights (from China, Hong Kong, and Macau based on a nationwide ban), there are many Chinese and non-Chinese nationals that were able to enter the country and they reached Aklan through the domestic flights,” she said.

Malay falls under the jurisdiction of Aklan province.

As of February 5, there were 303 persons under monitoring in Malay, all of them staying in different hotels in Boracay.

“We monitored 303 of them, mostly Chinese nationals. The 22 that we recorded on Wednesday was already included in the number,” Ms. Tayco said.

Aklan Governor Florencio T. Miraflores, meanwhile, said six isolation rooms have been prepared in one of the government hospitals to cater to persons under investigation, or those showing symptoms of the coronavirus and have pertinent travel history.

Earlier, the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte and the island province of Guimaras in Western Visayas also announced their respective entry restrictions to foreign tourists.

Jeju Island in South Korea, also a popular holiday destination, has temporarily suspended the visa-free entry policy for Filipino tourists, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced Friday.

“We have already instructed our immigration officers not to allow the departure of any Filipino bound for Jeju unless the passenger was issued a visa by the Korean Embassy,” BI Port Operations Divisions Chief Grifton SP. Medina said in a statement.

The BI was informed of the suspension by the Korean Embassy in Manila.

Coronavirus cases have reached over 28,000 globally as of February 6, with three in the Philippines and 23 in South Korea.

Meanwhile, the local government of Capas town has passed a resolution opposing the use of facilities at the New Clark City (NCC) as quarantine site for Filipinos repatriated from Hubei province in China.

The NCC is located in Tarlac province, with Capas and Bamban as host towns.

Capas Mayor Reynaldo L. Catacutan, in a statement posted on social media Friday, said the “last minute decision” of the Department of Health to use the Athletes’ Village in NCC should be reconsidered.

He addressed his appeal to Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III and President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“I am perturbed by the fact that the Department of Health did not at all, in any way, involve the Capas LGU (local government unit) in its last-minute decision for New Clark City Capas to be used as quarantine zone for these Persons Under Monitoring,” he said.

The Capas town council voted in support of the mayor during a session on Friday.

Local officials expressed concern that residents around NCC might catch the virus despite no confirmed case nor reported symptoms among the 45 returning Filipinos.

On Thursday, Mr. Duque said the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), which manages the NCC, offered the facility as an isolation area for the Filipinos who are expected to arrive next week.

The facility was constructed for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games late last year. The next scheduled activity at the venue is in April.

Prior to announcing the use of the NCC, the government looked at Fort Magsaysay, a military reservation in Nueva Ecija, as a potential site for the 14-day quarantine period.

Earlier this week, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said local governments should “act in accordance with the tempo dictated by the National Government or face charges for non-feasance.” — Emme Rose S. Santiagudo and Gillian M. Cortez