IATF scraps testing, quarantine in travel

IATF scraps testing, quarantine in travel

(The Freeman) - February 28, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has eased requirements in adopting uniform rules for travelers.

In a resolution dated February 26, 2021, IATF said travelers would no longer have to be tested for COVID-19, unless the local governments of their destination would require them to.

“Testing shall not be mandatory for traveler except if the LGU of destination (province with respect to their municipalities and component cities, and highly urbanized cities and independent component cities) will require testing as a requirement prior to travel,” the resolution reads.

Only an RT-PCR test is allowed.

The IATF also said that travelers would no longer have to undergo quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms upon arrival at their destination.

“No traveler shall be required to undergo quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms upon arrival at the LGU of destination,” the resolution reads further.

A travel authority issued by the Joint Task Force COVID Shield and health certificates are also no longer required.

IATF issued the February 26 resolution after it approved uniform protocols for land, air, and sea travel crafted by the Department of Interior and Local Government in coordination with the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, League of Provinces of the Philippines, League of Municipalities of the Philippines, and League of Cities of the Philippines.

The task force mandated authorities to continue strictly implementing minimum public health standards, such as physical distancing, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and wearing of face masks and face shields across all settings.

Cebu decision

Even before the national IATF issued the resolution, Cebu Province already decided to no longer require local tourists entering the province to present a negative COVID-19 result, making Cebu the first local government unit in the country to allow entry without RT-PCR test since the start of the pandemic.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued an executive order to formalize the announcement she made during a press conference that the province is easing up travel restrictions to help revive the ailing tourism industry.

“Gilibot nako ang probinsiya. Naminaw ko sa inyong mga sugilanon, gitan-aw nako ang inyong mga dagway… 80 porsiyento ngadto sa 90 porsiyento ninyo ang nag-antos kay naglisod na, wa nay trabaho, wa nay mga panginabuhi. Naglisod na unsay ipakaon sa ilang pamilya. Mao kana ang tataw ug busa niingon ko, igo na,” Garcia said during a visit to the northern town of Medellin.

Under Garcia’s E.O. No. 12, local tourists travelling to Cebu are not required to under antigen test, rapid test or even RT-PCR test. Travel authority from the local government units is not also required.

For travelers from other provinces to be allowed entry, they only need to show a valid medical certificate for them to purchase a ticket for travel via air, land or sea. The medical certificate shall be issued by a reputable doctor within seven days prior to the travel date.

Tourists should also present a proof of pre-booking at the hotel or resort accredited by the Provincial Tourism Task Force and is located within the Cebu Province where they will stay for the duration of their visit.

National scenario

The eased travel requirements come as the Philippines has been recording on average around 1,600 new COVID-19 cases per day since November and faces the threat of new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus.

Health officials have also confirmed the detection of two mutations of the virus that causes COVID-19, but their public health implications are still unknown.

The Philippines has the second-worst outbreak of COVID-10 in Southeast Asia, with over 570,000 cases and over 12,000 deaths. — Philstar.com, JMO (FREEMAN)

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