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Easing of inbound travel restrictions OK’d to boost tourism

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Easing of inbound travel restrictions OK�d to boost tourism
Residents and tourists enjoy their long weekend with water activities in Barangay Sabang, Baler, Aurora on October 31, 2022.
STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — To allow the Philippines’ tourism sector to catch up with that of neighboring countries, President Marcos has approved the recommendation of the government’s pandemic task force to further relax travel restrictions for inbound travelers.

Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, in a memorandum dated Oct. 28, said the President approved the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ Resolution No. 2, recommending the lifting of pre-departure testing requirement for fully vaccinated arriving passengers, whether Filipinos or foreign nationals.

“Please be informed of the approval of IATF Resolution No. 2 subject to strict observance of other minimum health protocols and compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations,” Bersamin said in his memo addressed to IATF chair Department of Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire and the task force’s members.

Filipino and foreign nationals shall be deemed fully vaccinated if he or she had received the second dose of a two-dose series or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine more than 14 days prior to the date and time of departure from the country of origin or port of embarkation, according to IATF Resolution No. 2, dated Oct. 4.

The vaccinated individuals are required to present the following proofs of vaccination upon arrival in the country: World Health Organization International Certificate of Vaccination and Prophylaxis, VaxCertPH, national or state manual/digital certificate of the country/foreign government or other proof of vaccination.

In the memo, the Palace directed the Bureau of Quarantine to coordinate with the DOH and other concerned agencies to identify the other acceptable proofs of vaccination in order to avoid confusion and inconvenience on the part of inbound travelers, and facilitate dissemination thereof for public information.

Meanwhile, unvaccinated Filipinos and foreign nationals 15 years or older shall present a remotely supervised, or a laboratory-based rapid antigen negative result administered and certified by a health care professional in a health care facility, laboratory, clinic, pharmacy or other similar establishment taken within 24 hours prior to the date and time of departure from the country of origin/first port of embarkation in a continuous travel to the Philippines, excluding layovers; provided that he/she has not left the airport premises or has not been admitted into another country during such layover.

Filipinos and foreign nationals 15 years or older who fail to present negative pre-departure testing with conditions set forth above, shall be required to undergo a laboratory-based rapid antigen negative result administered and certified by a health care professional in a health care facility, laboratory, clinic, pharmacy or other similar establishment taken upon arrival at the airport, it said.

Those who shall test positive for COVID-19 through rapid antigen test shall be subjected to the latest prevailing quarantine and isolation protocols of the DOH, the resolution stated.

Accompanied minors below 15 years of age who are not vaccinated for any reason shall follow the quarantine protocols of their parent/s or an accompanying adult/guardian travelling with them, the IATF said.

Unaccompanied minors below 15 years of age who have not been vaccinated for any reason shall follow the protocols set for Filipino and foreign nationals 15 years and above.

On Oct. 28, Marcos issued Executive Order 7, lifting the mandatory wearing of face masks in indoor settings, except in medical facilities and public transportation.

On Sept. 12, the President issued EO 3, which allowed the voluntary wearing of face masks in outdoor settings, particularly in open spaces and non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation.

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