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No more need to quarantine foreign arrivals if fully vaxxed

Fully vaccinated foreign tourists and travelers on business will be allowed in the country without having to go through government quarantine starting next month, Malacañang announced on Friday.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles answers question from media during the Laging Handa press breifing on the update of COVID 19. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC.

Fully vaccinated foreign tourists and travelers on business will be allowed in the country without having to go through government quarantine starting next month, Malacañang announced on Friday.

This will be the first time the country will welcome these visitors since 2020, when it closed its borders in an effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said fully vaccinated nationals from countries not requiring visas will be allowed to visit beginning Feb. 10.

A total of 157 countries are considered visa-free, including the United States, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and all the other member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

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According to the latest regulations of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), passports of these travelers must be valid for at least six months from the time of arrival and must have return or outbound tickets for their next destination.

Passports, proof of vaccination

They must also present proof of COVID-19 vaccination, such as a World Health Organization International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, a VaxCertPh, or a digital certificate of a foreign government which has accepted the VaxCertPH under a reciprocal arrangement.

Children below 18, however, will be exempted from the full vaccination requirement.

Effective Feb. 1, the government will suspend the color-code classification of countries into red, yellow, or green which had been observed in accordance with their risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The IATF said the fully inoculated would no longer have to go through facility quarantine.

Moreover, they will not be tallied in the arrival quota set by the Department of Transportation.

Unvaccinated passengers

On the other hand, foreign travelers who remain unvaccinated would no longer be allowed to enter the country starting on Feb 16.

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But Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a tweet on Friday” “We are considering letting in the unvaccinated but with long quarantines.”

Meanwhile, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated passengers as well as those whose inoculation status cannot be verified must present a negative PCR test and undergo facility quarantine until the release of their test results on the fifth day.

They will then further undergo home quarantine until the 14th day from their arrival.

The fully vaccinated will only be asked to monitor themselves for symptoms for seven days.

But they will be asked to present a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure from their country of origin.

All travelers from abroad undergoing quarantine on Feb. 1, whether Filipino or foreign, may avail themselves of these testing and quarantine protocols.

‘Giant leap’

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the quarantine requirement was removed for the fully vaccinated because experts believe “it doesn’t make sense anymore,” given that coronavirus transmission in the country is already high.

With regard to returning overseas Filipinos, she said analysis by the Philippine Genome Center had shown that the number of those testing positive for COVID-19 was low.

Nograles said that with the new IATF rules, “the tourism industry will be able to recover and it will contribute greatly to job generation, livelihood and the economic growth of the country.”

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement: “[W]e are confident that we will be able to keep pace with our Asean neighbors who have already made similar strides to reopen to foreign tourists.”

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the reopening of the country’s borders was “a giant leap toward the rebound of the tourism and international travel sector.”

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said: “We can now welcome both leisure and business travelers, and this will redound to benefits downstream for our [micro, small, and medium enterprises].” INQ

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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