Shorter quarantine for fully vaccinated travelers pushed

MANILA TIMES

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd on Friday lauded the government for heeding the call of the business sector to relax health protocols for travelers, saying it would help in ramping up economic activity in the last quarter of 2021.

Concepcion made the statement after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) revised testing and quarantine protocols for travelers from countries and territories where the Covid-19 threat had been downgraded.

“I am thankful that the government listened to our repeated calls to relax the guidelines for the fully vaccinated. With the shorter quarantine, many will be encouraged to fly, engage in economic activities and most importantly reunite with families with lesser costs in mind,” Concepcion said in a statement.

“This is a great Christmas gift for Filipino families. We have lost so many lives [during] this pandemic. Now, our balikbayans can spend time with their families. They can celebrate together with extra money to spend from the hotel quarantine savings,” he said.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. had announced that starting October 8, fully vaccinated individuals from “green” or “yellow” countries need only to undergo facility-based quarantine until the release of the negative result of their reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test taken on their fifth day in the country.

After that they will be allowed to go on home quarantine until their 10th day,” Roque said.

He said unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals, as well as those with unverified vaccination status, must go through facility-based quarantine until the release of the negative result of their RT-PCR test taken on their seventh day in the country.

“They shall then be required to undergo home quarantine until their 14th day, with the day of arrival as their first day,” Roque said.

Originally, international passengers from yellow countries have to undergo a 14-day quarantine and take the RT-PCR test on their seventh day in the country.

“This is another win for us and the airline companies like Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia who will benefit from this new development. Their industry has been badly hit and this is a way to help them recover,” Concepcion said.

Concepcion had led a discussion with airline industry stakeholders and Dr. Edsel Salvana, one of the advisers of the IATF.

During that meeting, proposals of scrapping RT-PCR tests for domestic travel and a five-day quarantine period for international travelers were discussed.

Even President Rodrigo Duterte is for a shorter quarantine period for fully vaccinated travelers.

The President said he wanted the quarantine period trimmed to just seven days.

Recently, several local destinations and government units also announced travel guidelines that favor mobility for the fully vaccinated.

“We are also elated to know that some local areas are now allowing fully vaccinated travelers. This can persuade more people to go out of their homes to travel and give a boost to the local economy,” Concepcion said.

On Friday the Cebu provincial government announced that travelers to the province will no longer be required to submit a negative RT-PCR or antigen test.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said a medical certificate issued within 24 hours immediately before arrival indicating that a visitor has no symptoms of the virus will be enough to allow them entry to the province.

Negros Occidental has also relaxed its domestic travel rules. And starting November 15, Coron, Palawan will begin accepting fully vaccinated tourists from outside the province under the point-to-point (P2P) bubble tourism policy.

Concepcion has been pushing for the designation of “bakuna bubbles,” areas where health protocols will be relaxed for fully vaccinated individuals.

More than 1,000 business owners and franchisees support the bakuna bubble concept and called on the government to explore the possibility of providing incentives, including easing of guidelines, to fully vaccinated people.

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