In a bid to reopen the country's tourism industry, dive establishments in Batangas and other specific areas under the general and modified general community quarantine (GCQ and MGCQ) will now be allowed to reopen, Malacañang announced on Friday.
In a statement, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that the reopening covers dive establishments in specific areas under GCQ and MGCQ, such as Batangas and other areas as may be identified by the Department of Tourism (DOT).
These establishments may now accept recreational divers as guests as long as they are from areas under the GCQ or lower.
Roque, however, said that divers should wait for the necessary guidelines that will be issued by the DOT in coordination with other government stakeholders.
"The DOT shall issue the necessary guidelines in coordination and consultation with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the identified local government units," he said.
Last month, dive operators in Mabini, Batangas appealed to the national government to allow the underwater activity to resume, saying it is a safer activity compared to leisure travels to the beach.
According to the Resort Owners Association of Mabini (ROAM), more than 2,000 resort operators, instructors, and boatmen in Anilao, a popular diving spot, have lost their jobs not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic but also because of the Taal Volcano eruption.
In a letter to the IATF and the DOT in September this year, ROAM said that scuba diving is considered as an "outdoor non-contact sport" and should be allowed based on IATF guidelines as long as health and safety protocols are observed.
The IATF has allowed the conduct of non-contact sports as long as participants are wearing face masks, observing physical distancing, and are not sharing equipment.
The following outdoor non-contact sports and other forms of exercise are allowed in areas under the GCQ and MGCQ provided that minimum public health standards are observed:
- Range shooting, and
- Skateboarding, among others
However, spectators are still prohibited in all outdoor non-contact sports and exercises in any quarantine classification.