By Barry Murrell
I am an American businessman here in Cebu and I am writing in response to the article “Biz leaders: Inoculate all Filipinos first before opening up borders.”
What about Cebu businesses that are completely dependent on foreign tourists for income? There ARE such businesses here in Cebu! My family-owned English school was growing very well pre-Covid. In the fourth quarter of 2019, we negotiated an expansion loan from a bank and were in the process of implementing expansion plans when Covid hit and the forced-closure of the government pulled the rug out from under us. What these business leaders evidently do not know is that there ARE local businesses here in Cebu that are 100 percent dependent on foreign tourism! My English school is one of them.
It is easy for non-tourism-based businesses to hold positions such as those of the business leaders quoted in the article. I am certain they are really nice people, but they have no idea what those of us who depend on foreign tourism have suffered. For instance, my English school has not had a foreign student now for over 15 months and we are so very close now to losing everything! Are the Chamber leaders willing to give businesses like mine grants so that their suggestion can go forward and not kill our businesses?
Our response and our position are based on science. If tourists are fully vaccinated, the science says they are not a threat to anyone. If they are not a threat, then why can they not come here? How will their being here hurt our situation? They cannot transmit what they do not have? If there is any doubt, then do what other tourism-based economies are doing, such as those in the Caribbean. Have the tourists tested before leaving their home countries. That will reveal if they are protected or not. If this is not enough, then test AGAIN upon arrival.
Vaccines are created to protect people from diseases and to prevent them from becoming carriers that might spread the diseases. Science has shown that the vaccines for Covid-19 do BOTH. Oh... There ARE naysayers who insist that a vaccinated person MIGHT BE ABLE TO BE A CARRIER, but with the over 400 million fully vaccinated people in the world, how many of those have been documented to be carriers? Oh... And if they are negative and fully vaccinated, then WHY would they need to quarantine? Will their fully-vaccinated-protection somehow increase in strength during that waiting period?
So either we trust the vaccines or we admit otherwise! When discussing whether to allow fully vaccinated tourists in the country, mentioning the state of the vaccine rollout here (and making policy affecting those fully vaccinated tourists) is unfair because these tourists will not affect the Covid situation here! These foreigners have taken the vaccine SO THAT THEY CANNOT AND WILL NOT SPREAD THE VIRUS WHEREVER THEY GO! Isn’t THAT the whole point of the vaccines?
If we trust the vaccines, then let those who have taken it return to their normal lives, just as people who are vaccinated FOR OTHER DISEASES do! If the manufacturers say recipients are protected, then what “expert” is qualified to contradict that statement, without backing such claims up with studies and data? One cannot simply inject a baseless opinion just because one has a series of framed pieces of paper on a wall that say they “are smart.”