La Union drops COVID tests for vaxxed returning residents
LAOAG CITY — Fully vaccinated residents who are returning to La Union province will no longer be required to present any negative COVID-19 test results beginning Nov. 8, an official said.
Gov. Francisco Emmanuel Ortega III, in an executive order issued on Wednesday, eased the border protocols due to the declining number of infections and asked mayors of towns and cities in the province to refrain from issuing “conflicting” rules on COVID-19 testing.
The new guidelines would cover not only returning residents, but also nonresidents who are traveling to the province for work, business, medical and other similar purposes.
He said relaxing policies on testing would stimulate the province’s economy and balance it with the health and safety of local residents.
Fully vaccinated residents traveling to the province for work, business and medical purposes would only be required to present their COVID-19 vaccination cards.
For unvaccinated returning residents and nonresidents, the validity of the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results had been extended to 30 days while a negative antigen test result would be accepted if taken between three and seven days prior to the entry to the province.
Filipinos returning from overseas would only be asked to provide their COVID-19 vaccination cards and a certification from the Bureau of Quarantine if they are fully vaccinated.
The province would also accept fully vaccinated leisure travelers as long as they could provide a negative antigen test result, while those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated should present a negative RT-PCR test. Both test results are only valid if taken within three days before traveling to the province.
As of Thursday, La Union still has 957 active cases out of the 20,571 infections it logged since the pandemic struck last year, with 501 deaths while the rest have recovered.
Tourists should also register under the local quick response-coded tourist pass “Tara na Visita” system and should have a prebooked accommodation with an operator accredited by the Department of Tourism.
La Union is the first province in the Ilocos Region to relax its COVID-19 testing protocols for the fully jabbed.
It reopened its borders to visitors beginning Sept. 16 but only accepted a negative RT-PCR swab or saliva test results issued by the Philippine Red Cross.
All tourist sites in La Union had been reopened, including the top tourist-drawer beaches in San Juan town, which was dubbed the “surfing capital of the North.”
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