Puyat: COVID-19 test for domestic tourists depends on LGUs, not DOT
MANILA, Philippines — Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Wednesday clarified that requiring COVID-19 tests – either through Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) or saliva test – to domestic tourists should be upon the discretion of local government units (LGUs).
“I think the question of [the removal of] RT-PCR should be given to the LGU and not to the Department of Tourism (DOT),” said Puyat in a press conference.
“Kami sa Department of Tourism, ang lagi lang namin inii-stress is the implementation of wearing mask and face shield, physical distancing, and washing of the hands,” she added.
(The Department of Tourism always emphasizes the implementation of wearing mask and face shield, physical distancing, and washing of the hands.)
This statement comes after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), under Resolution No. 101, issued uniform travel protocols for all LGUs and made Covid-19 testing and quarantine for travelers no longer mandatory.
“The protocols are really up to the local government unit. Kami naman, we want to reopen tourism safely with the minimum health and safety protocols. Now, it is the decision of the LGU kung maglalagay sila ng test before travel. Whether it’s saliva or swab test, it is always the decision of the LGU,” Puyat explained.
(The protocols are really up to the local government unit. We want to reopen tourism safely with the minimum health and safety protocols. Now, it is the decision of the LGU if they will require tourists to have COVID-19 tests before travel. It is always the decision of the LGU.)
“Kaya nila decision ito, first they are elected officials. Number two, they know the number of cases in their province, city, or municipality. In fact, that’s why ‘yung mga ibang LGUs ayaw pa rin nila magbukas kahit MGCQ because feeling nila ‘di pa sila ready,” she continued.
(The reasons why it’s their decision is first, they are the elected officials. Number two, they know the number of cases in their province, city, or municipality. In fact, that’s why other LGUs don’t want to reopen yet even though they are under MGCQ because they feel they are not yet ready.)
IATF’s Resolution No. 101 also states that travelers shall no longer undergo quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms upon arrival at their destination.
It also says travel authority issued by the Joint Task Force Covid-19 Shield, as well as health certificates, is no longer required.
“Authorized persons outside of residence (Apors) from national government agencies and their attached agencies, on the other hand, must provide their identification card, travel order, and travel itinerary. They must likewise pass symptom-screening at the ports of entry and exit,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who also serves as the mouthpiece of IATF, earlier said.
“They must likewise pass symptom-screening at the ports of entry and exit,” he added.
The government’s main COVID-19 task force also reiterated the strict implementation of minimum health protocols such as physical distancing as well as wearing of face masks and face shields in public places.
According to the Tourism chief, COVID-19 tests are still required for travellers going to the following areas:
- El Nido, Palawan
- Coron, Palawan
- San Vicente, Palawan (when it opens on March 15)
- Puerto Princesa, Palawan (when it opens on March 15)
- Pangasinan (when it opens this month)
- La Union (when it opens this month)
- Dumaguete, Negros Oriental
- Iloilo City
- Cebu City
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