7-day quarantine eyed for vaccinated OFWs, tourists

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star
7-day quarantine eyed for vaccinated OFWs, tourists
This photo taken May 26 shows stranded Overseas Filipino Workers who will be flown back to their home provinces through the 18 chartered flights of the Department of Transportation as part of the government's“Hatid Probinsya Para sa mga OFWs” program.
Department of Transportation / released

MANILA, Philippines — Returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as well as foreign tourists will undergo seven days’ quarantine under the proposal of the Department of Tourism (DOT) to set up “green lanes” at the airports.

In a TV interview yesterday, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the DOT plans to emulate the quarantine requirements in Hong Kong and Thailand in rolling out the green lane for vaccinated passengers arriving at international gateways.

In using the green lane, returning OFWs and foreign nationals who received their complete dose of COVID-19 vaccines will only need to quarantine for seven days – from the current 14 days – upon entry into the Philippines.

“Currently, whether you are fully vaccinated or not, it’s 10 days in a hotel and another four days at home. For our balikbayans, for our OFWs, that’s too costly,” Puyat said.

Puyat said the DOT is looking into the entry procedures of Hong Kong and Thailand to evaluate which one is best for the Philippines.

Hong Kong allows vaccinated foreigners into its region for as long as they come from low-risk countries identified by authorities.

Thailand, on the other hand, grants entry for everyone who completed their vaccination, whether they travel from a high risk area or not, but on May 6 reverted their quarantine requirement to 14 days to arrest a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

“We were thinking that if other countries are doing it (reducing the quarantine period), then it should be discussed with the Department of Health and health experts,” Puyat said.

The small working group tasked to come up with the specifics of the green lane is scheduled to convene today and it will discuss, among others, whether certain countries will be flagged and if specific vaccines will be required.

The European Union is eyeing to mandate a vaccine passport from foreign visitors as a way to restart tourism in some of its member countries. Some EU policymakers, however, demand that tourists who received Chinese vaccines be barred from entering the region on efficacy issues.

Puyat also said the DOT will push for the resumption of commercial flights by June to widen the options in going around the country. At present, travelers from Metro Manila need to book point-to-point flights to reach a destination outside of the region.

Tourism Congress of the Philippines president Jose Clemente III earlier warned the DOT to look into cautionary tales of island destinations abroad that resumed international travel only to suffer a new wave of infections.

Clemente asked the government to speed up the vaccination program to make it safe as well for host communities to interact with foreign tourists.



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