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DOT proposes âgreen laneâ for vaccinated foreigners
In the proposal it submitted to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), the DOT said the creation of a green lane can allow immunized foreigners to travel to the Philippines without the need to undergo the required quarantine.
Mark Ralston/AFP

DOT proposes ‘green lane’ for vaccinated foreigners

Elijah Felice Rosales (The Philippine Star) - May 22, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) has recommended the lifting of restrictions for inbound foreign nationals by putting up a green lane for tourists who have completed their vaccine doses.

In the proposal it submitted to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), the DOT said the creation of a green lane can allow immunized foreigners to travel to the Philippines without the need to undergo the required quarantine.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the government is already formulating the protocols after the IATF created a small working group (SWG), headed by the DOT and the Department of Foreign Affairs, to examine how the green lane can be put in place.

Working alongside the DOT and DFA are seven other agencies, including the Bureaus of Quarantine and of Immigration.

The IATF directed the SWG to assess how countries, mostly in Europe, opened up their borders to vaccinated tourists. It also tasked the group to explore measures that need to be applied for the green lane to achieve its objective of resuming international travel.

The Philippines has been strictly implementing border controls, limiting the arrival of passengers from countries with very contagious and deadly variants of COVID-19 such as India.

It is imposing a strict 14-day quarantine for all arriving passengers, whether or not they show symptoms of the disease.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said placing a green lane in airports would allow the country to reopen its tourist attractions to the benefit of struggling hotels and resorts, as well as tour guides, operators and service providers.

“(The green lane) will give the jobs back to many of our tourism workers and gradually revive the tourism industry under safe conditions,” Puyat noted.

About 4.8 million of the 5.7 million workers in tourism, the DOT estimates, were displaced by the pandemic as movement restrictions enforced by the government weakened the demand for travel activities.

In Metro Manila alone, the DOT spent P240.25 million to release P5,000 for each of the 48,050 displaced tourism workers in the region.

Puyat said the Philippines needs to keep up with its tourism competitors in their move to lift border restrictions and allow the entry of vaccinated foreigners. At present, the country prohibits foreign nationals on leisure purposes to travel to the country.

“We must keep pace with our neighbors and the rest of the world in slowly reopening our tourist destinations. We must be ready for visitors when the whole world’s ready to safely travel again,” she added.

In Thailand, the government has moved to vaccinate 70 percent of residents in Phuket to attain herd immunity, as the island will be opened up to vaccinated foreigners without need to undergo quarantine by July 1.

Last year visitor arrivals in the Philippines declined by more than 82 percent to 1.48 million, from 8.26 million in 2019. – Cristina Mendez

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