AMID the clamor for its closure to prevent the spread of the dreaded coronavirus, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is still contemplating closing the dolomite beach until the completion of the second phase of the project after November 3.
During the second phase of the P389-million “beach nourishment” project, more crushed dolomite from Cebu will be shipped to Roxas Boulevard to expand the “Boracay-like” white-sand beach along the Manila Baywalk area.
This as officials of the DENR reiterated that public health remains the top concern in the dolomite beach crowd management.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the DENR said measures of either closing the beach on weekends or closing it until the second phase of the rehabilitation is completed shall be carefully examined and will be based on the decision of the Manila Bay Task Force and the Alert Level status in Metro Manila.
The DENR said that it is putting in place adequate crowd management measures to ensure visitors’ adherence to the health protocols should the agency decides to keep the controversial white sand beach along Roxas Boulevard open after November 3.
“The public’s health is still of paramount concern for us. This is the reason why we at the DENR are studying the guidelines to make sure that the public can still appreciate the beauty of the dolomite beach while keeping them free from sickness,” DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said in a statement.
During an online news conference last October 27, Cimatu announced that the Manila Bay Task Force (MBTF) will conduct an investigation on the October-24 overcrowding incident to assure the people that the incident will not happen again in the future.
A total of 121,744 people visited the dolomite beach nine days after its “soft reopening.”
The DENR chief also apologized, saying that the agency “will confront the things that need to be corrected.”
To prevent overcrowding at the dolomite beach, the DENR has decided to close the area from October 29 to November 3 in conjunction with the long holiday weekend.
Aside from these measures, the DENR is also considering several strategies to help ease the crowding situation in the dolomite beach.
“We are aware that if this [overcrowding] situation continues and the minimum health standards are ignored, this may bring us to a scenario of a possible super spreader event,” DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas R. Leones said.
According to Leones, the DENR has already “implemented the temporary ban on minors to enter the dolomite beach, consistent with Covid-19 Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ protocols.”
Children 11 years old and below will not be allowed at the dolomite beach.
The DENR is also considering the “cinema approach” for those who want to visit the dolomite beach, he pointed out.
Visitors may be given “stubs” just like in movie houses, which will then give a “fair chance for everyone to enjoy the beach.”
Also recommended is the designation of a special lane for persons with disabilities, pregnant women and senior citizens.