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PSA: Domestic tourists don’t have to show COVID-19 travel req’ts anymore

You can finally fulfill your travel goals that have long been postponed.

That’s because effective this month, domestic travelers are no longer required to undergo mandatory quarantine nor to present a negative RT-PCR test result, travel authority, or a health certificate. This means that exploring the Philippines will require no more than the necessary round-trip tickets.

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(Image: Unsplash/Pascal Meier)

The loosened travel restrictions are pursuant to the IATF Resolution No. 101, signed last February 26 and announced by the Presidental Spokesperson Harry Roque during a virtual presser last Saturday. 

However, the said resolution also allows local government units to implement their health protocols for entering tourists. For example, the charter cities of Cebu (Cebu City, Mandaue City, and Lapu-Lapu City) are still requiring negative COVID-19 test results despite an existing Executive Order by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to forego said requirement. Additionally, some popular tourist destinations such as Boracay, Coron, Siargao, Palawan, and Bohol still require RT-PCR tests and registration. Thus, the Palace encourages travelers to check with the local government of their destination ahead of their date of travel.

Should the LGU require a negative COVID-19 test result from visiting tourists, only a reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR test will be honored. Those who will be required to take an RT-PCR test can also avail of the government’s subsidized testing services.

Despite the easing, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) still stressed that minimum public health standards are still being observed nationwide. Clinical assessments also remain a part of the mandatory procedure for domestic travel.

“Health assessment of passengers, supervised by medical doctors, shall be mandatory upon entry in the port/terminal and exit at point of destination,” the IATF emphasized.

The resolution also outlines the institutionalization of the Safe, Swift, and Smart Passage (S-PaSS) application by the Department of Science and Technology as the “one-stop-shop application [for] communication for travelers.” Likewise, the contact tracing application remains as the primary contact tracing system.

Meanwhile, requirements for international travel shall remain. International passengers must still present a negative antigen swab test result 24 hours before departure, health and travel insurance if traveling as a tourist, and round-trip tickets. 

Domestic travel is now allowed without the tourists showing COVID-19 req'ts.
(Image: ABS-CBN News)

The IATF and the Department of Tourism earlier said that the lightening of travel measures is meant to encourage domestic travel and assist the recovery of the industry.  

However, according to a report by CNN Philippines, Dr. Guido David of OCTA Research said that the decision was a “bit concerning” considering the new COVID-19 variants that have entered the Philippines. He shared that the government has to be careful with adjusting border controls since there are still areas that are recording a spike in COVID-19 cases.

We should be concerned. “Halimbawa may tourists from NCR na pupunta sa Cebu, we already know na may variant na kumakalat dun, [so] we should be vigilant,” Guido said.

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