Since March 12, 2020, Siargao has been under quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like the rest of the world, Filipinos wonder when things will ever go back to "normal" in the beloved archipelago.
With Siargao's limited healthcare systems, it's hard to say when it will be safe to enjoy another beautiful occasion. The Philippines is still grappling with serious numbers of cases nationwide and it begs the question on whether Philippine leadership is really doing an effective job of keeping the public safe. The province of Surigao Del Norte (where we are located), however, has been very strict with entry and testing protocols. This may be why the province has reported very few cases of the virus so far. The majority of cases are located in Butuan City, and as of today July 20th, 2020, passenger travel into the islands is shutdown unless it's for business purposes
Pictured above is Region 13 of Caraga. Surigao Del Norte is where is located and is the northern most province or group of islands.
The HEALS 911 Facebook page has regular updates on the COVID situation in Surigao Del Norte. According to this photo, as of July 19, 2020 there are 2 possible cases in Siargao. Majority of persons in the island are people who have graduated from quarantine and persons under monitoring.
As an exclusive venue, we feel it's necessary to do some research on the safety of outdoor gatherings and what best practices the industry is adopting. Needless to say, I believe in science and kindness towards our neighbor goes a long way. If you want to read some of the articles I've been picking up, keep on reading.
According to a study published in an article on the NYT, it's about 20x safer to be outdoors with people compared to being indoors with them. Transmission of the virus while outdoors is much less likely to happen.
However, the article suggests that the possibility of spreading the virus rises when guests get drunk. When a person is inebriated, their perception of "personal space" or social distancing abilities start to diminish. At happy occasions like weddings, your favorite aunties and uncles might just get a little bit too close for comfort and safety. It may also prove to be difficult shooing them away, because no one wants to be a rude, paranoid, wet-blanket at a party. To read the article yourself, click below:
Thankfully, dancing doesn't have to get this steamy in our outdoor venue.
So, how to cope? Some people think a wedding is NOT the place to be reminded of a pandemic. It's supposed to be a happy occasion, right? A sign of good things to come, where beloved or esteemed people can reconnect and reunite after months or years of not seeing each other. Everyone needs a social life, certain events to attend to. A wedding is in that category, and typically just making the guest list is a privileged honor.
But I think it's foolish to pretend that COVID-19 can't hit you and those you know. It's also mean to walk around thinking the virus is "just a cold".
I also think it's impossible to believe everyone has it and that life can't go on.
Which brings us to the purpose of this article. How are we to move forward in these uncertain times? Is it really possible socially distance ourselves from an event that is meant for socializing and celebrating?
A lot guidance and social cues should come from the couple. Reminders of how to safely keep distance can be sent via email or invite. Couples and planners can put up signs telling guests as they enter the venue to refrain from giving hugs and handshakes, and instead give elbow pumps. With what's at stake, many wedding planners have gotten creative with their itineraries and materials to be presented at the wedding, like offering platters of hand sanitizer to be served to guests upon entering the venue or placed at their designated seats. Couples may also choose to not invite the elderly or vulnerable guests for their destination wedding. I've found this article in Fortune Magazine very helpful for clients to re-imagine what their wedding can be like:
Control and Prevention
I've downloaded and read the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s recommendations on social gatherings and food safety directives. There are a lot of useful pointers for venues to maintain the safety of our workers. For example, little things like tape for marking where people should stay distanced from one another can mean workers don't have to put their health at unnecessary risk or exposure. Sanitizers and regulated breaks for hand washing will be wrapped into our operations. Clients can make use of these guidelines too:
We will also use the CDC's "Readiness and Planning Tool To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 at Events and Gatherings" manual as a resource for all our future events. To read it, click here :
Information is Power
Although returning back to "normal", may not happen anytime very soon, these tips can help guide all of us to toward more confident and happier days. Planning in these times doesn't have to be harder. We all have to adjust as needed. Your wedding may be even more meaningful and intimate than you previously imagined it to be. And you can bet that Punta Dolores is going to provide the best possible service and staff to make sure you can enjoy your very special day.