Biliran Island shuts down borders due to virus threat


TACLOBAN CITY – Biliran, one of the country’s smallest provinces, has closed its doors to visitors for two weeks to protect residents from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

The border closure, stated in Executive Order 18, began on Wednesday and is effective until March 31, Governor Roger Espina said.

“Only those that work in the province of Biliran are allowed to enter the province, like government workers and health workers, provided that they can produce proof of employment and will undergo screening,” Espina said in a statement.

However, they would be barred if they come from an area with an identified positive case of Covid-19.

Residents who work in government agencies or the private sector outside Biliran are allowed to enter. Non-residents assigned to government offices may enter the province after showing identification cards and going through the standard screening.

The same process applies to students and faculty members or those undergoing on-the-job training outside the province.

Only vessels and vehicles that carry basic necessities and prime commodities are allowed to enter the province subject to disinfection. Their personnel will also be checked for symptoms of the disease.

The local government also bans the shipment of local produce from the province classified as a basic necessity and prime commodities to ensure ample local supply.

Construction supply and materials, equipment and machinery are allowed to enter Biliran to ensure the continuity of government infrastructure projects and private building construction to sustain economic activities.

Courier and mail services, as well as armored vans of banks, are allowed to enter and leave the province provided their personnel show proof of transaction.

Espina also ordered the activation of the local price coordinating council, which will coordinate closely with the Department of Trade and Industry.

Part of the order is to close all tourist destinations in Biliran Island, but accommodation facilities and tourism establishments may continue to operate if they observe stringent measures, as directed in the guidelines issued by the departments of health and tourism on the prevention of Covid-19.

Espina directed all government officials — from the town down to the village levels – to actively monitor all patients under investigation and persons under monitoring in their respective areas, strictly implement home quarantine, and ask assistance from police authorities if necessary.

The country’s fourth-smallest province, Biliran has a population of 171,612 in eight towns.