Senator Win Gatchalian urged authorities to consider the relaxation of requirements for COVID-19 testing and quarantine protocols on all fully vaccinated tourists – both foreign and local — to help spur the slow reopening of the country’s economy.
“If we’re easing travel restrictions on fully vaccinated Filipinos returning from trips abroad, I don’t see any reason why we should exclude those fully vaccinated foreign and local tourists as they are similarly situated. Besides, there’s more to gain economically speaking as it will bring back the workers in the tourism sector,” the Vice Chairperson of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee said.
In the new policy announced by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on June 4, Filipinos who were vaccinated in the Philippines and went abroad will now only need to undergo seven-day quarantine when they return home. An RT-PCR or swab test will only be done if the symptoms manifest during the quarantine period. The inbound traveler must carry a vaccination card which must be verified prior to departure and checked upon arrival in the Philippines. However, the IATF did not mention if this “green lane” policy is applicable to returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and travelers already vaccinated abroad.
Due to the progress of vaccinations, the European Union (EU) Commission recently laid down a proposal exempting vaccinated people from testing or quarantines when travelling from one EU country to another and likewise urged a gradual easing of travel measures as inoculations against the coronavirus disease accelerate.
Gatchalian cited the latest guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that while fully vaccinated international travelers bound for the U.S., including U.S. citizens, are recommended to get COVID-19 test three to five days after travel, they do not need to self-quarantine following international travel.
“Ang unti-unting pagluluwag sa travel restrictions ay isa ring paraan para ma-address ang isyu ng vaccine hesitancy sa ating bansa. Marami sa atin ang gusto nang makapamasyal, pero kung napagtanto nila na maaari nilang magawa ito kung nabakunahan na sila, tiyak na dadami ang bilang ng mga pupunta sa mga vaccination centers,” Gatchalian said.
In a recent Palace pronouncement the vaccination of those under the A4 priority group, that includes those in the accommodation and food service activities and airline personnel, will begin this month.