The Latest: 2 Philippine tourist spots partially reopen

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

People wearing masks and face shields wait for their turn to pick up student electronic tablets as online classes are scheduled to start next week in the Dona Rosario High School in Quezon city, Philippines, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. Public schools will hold online classes using electronic gadgets and educational materials provided to students as the opening got delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

MANILA, Philippines — Two of the most popular Philippine tourist destinations, including the Boracay beach, have partially reopened with only a fraction of their usual crowds showing up given continuing coronavirus restrictions.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Friday that 35 local tourists, including seven from Manila, came on the first day of the reopening of Boracay, a central island famous for its powdery white sands, azure waters and stunning sunsets. Only local tourists from regions with low-level quarantine designations could go, subject to safeguards, including tests showing a visitor is coronavirus-free.

The mountain city of Baguio, regarded as a summer hideaway for its pine trees, cool breeze and picturesque upland views, has been reopened to tourists only from its northern region, she told ABS-CBN News.

Despite the urgent need to revive the tourism industry, it’s being done “very slowly, cautiously,” she said, adding mayors and governors would have to approve the reopening of tourism spots. “We really have to be careful,” she said.

Like in most countries, the pandemic has devastated the tourism industry in the Philippines, which now has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia at more than 314,000, with 5,504 deaths.

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