Mobility for fully vaccinated a global norm – Concepcion

The Philippine Star
Mobility for fully vaccinated a global norm â Concepcion
Residents receive a dose of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan City on July 21, 2021.
The STAR / Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion initiated a dialogue on safer travel with key tourism industry stakeholders in relation to his recent appeal to help the aviation industry from crashing.

Governors and mayors from popular tourist destinations such as Cebu, Bohol, Boracay Aklan, Coron and Busuanga in Palawan engaged with industry representatives, exploring the resumption of tourism activities in their respective areas.

Stressing that providing greater mobility to the fully vaccinated is now the norm worldwide, Concepcion reiterated his call to the government to impose fewer restrictions to fully vaccinated passengers to encourage them to travel.

Concepcion in the meeting said that the United States’ recent pronouncement of easing travel restrictions on all fully vaccinated foreign visitors starting November is a clear proof that allowing mobility for vaccinated individuals is the suitable approach in addressing many underlying economic issues.

“We want to move heaven and earth to allow less restrictions for the fully vaccinated passengers. “It’s time that we open up. The revenue of the government will get depleted and we have to make sure that we can save the economy,” Concepcion added.

The US said fully vaccinated passengers are not subjected to any quarantine mandates upon arrival but unvaccinated travelers will undergo strict testing requirements, he pointed out.

In addition, Concepcion said Great Britain has already simplified its rules regarding international travel, scrapping the need for fully vaccinated passengers from low-risk countries to take costly COVID-19 tests upon arrival.

“Providing greater mobility is now a worldwide standard. If we continue to impose stricter measures when it comes to travel, we will surely be left behind,” said Concepcion.

He also answered accusations that giving more mobility to fully vaccinated individuals is discriminatory.

“Data from all over the Philippines, more so, all over the world mirror the same thing, that the unvaccinated are at greatest risk to themselves. Restricting them in areas that are high-risk will not be considered discriminatory,” Concepcion said.

During a meeting between the aviation and tourism industries and some local officials facilitated by Concepcion, he underscored the need to impose fewer restrictions for fully vaccinated passengers to help businesses recover from the pandemic.

“Our passion to help the business remains constant as we fight the pandemic. We want to see the tourist spots as well as other destinations and beaches. My interest is to help tourism industry through MSMEs,” he said.

Concepcion and the invited local government officials all agreed that vaccination is a critical aspect in protecting and opening the economy.

“The aftershock of the pandemic will be tremendous and we have to prevent it as best as we can by solidifying the efforts of the private sector,” he said.

Stakeholders from the airline and tourism industries called on the local officials to allow lesser restrictions for the fully vaccinated, and to simplify entry requirements for passengers, including shorter quarantines.

Cebu Pacific vice president Alex Reyes, AirAsia CEO Ricky Isla, and Philippine Airlines president and COO Gilbert Sta. Maria brought forward a unified proposal of giving incentives for fully vaccinated travelers in domestic destinations without carrying the additional financial burden of an RT-PCR test.

Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez agreed with the airline industry, saying quarantine for fully vaccinated passengers should be shortened and that they should be allowed more mobility. Mayor Mario Reyes Jr. of Coron and Mayor Elizabeth Cervantes of Busuanga supported the governor’s stand and are studying reopening their doors to tourists.

“We fully support the stand of Go Negosyo and the rest to make it easier for the fully vaccinated to travel,” said Gov. Joeben Miraflores of Aklan, adding they are also hoping that restrictions for 18 years old and below will be relaxed.

Gov. Arthur Yap of Bohol said they have no issue with vaccination-based mobility as long as they can authenticate the vaccine cards that would be presented by travelers.

Cebu acting Mayor Michael Rama insisted that the country should move forward by implementing more aggressive, faster and bolder measures to fight the virus.

“We must adopt freedom with responsibility,” he stressed.

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, representative of Cebu province, said the local government is pushing for uniformity of protocols for travelers to avoid confusion.

Concepcion has been advocating the implementation of the Bakuna Bubble, where COVID-19 guidelines are eased for fully vaccinated individuals to help boost the economy and protect the employment of Filipinos.

More than 1,000 business owners and franchisees have expressed support for Concepcion’s suggestion, calling on the government to explore the possibility of providing incentives, including easing of guidelines, to fully vaccinated people.

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