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Monday, May 27, 2024

Foreign tourists still barred; PAL lauds openings

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Foreign tourists are not yet allowed to enter the Philippines despite coming from “green list” countries, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) clarified Monday.

In a statement, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente reiterated that only Filipinos, balikbayans, and those with valid and existing long-term visas from green and yellow-list countries are allowed to enter.

He said the reiteration came as the Bureau received numerous queries from foreign tourists who wish to fly to the Philippines already. 

Meanwhile, flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) on Monday welcomed the decision of several cities and provinces to ease domestic travel restrictions and is hoping for other local government units in the country to follow suit.

As of Oct. 13, at least 18 local destinations have relaxed their travel requirements and provided special considerations for fully vaccinated travelers, PAL said in a statement.

In Cagayan de Oro, Catarman and Pagadian City, local officials are not requiring COVID-19 test for all travelers. 

In Cebu Province, travelers may present a Medical Certificate secured 24 hours before flight while in Cebu City, fully vaccinated travelers may take a Saliva Test (within 48 hours of departure).

Morente added that Filipinos coming from red list countries may return via repatriation flights and bayanihan flights organized by government or non-government agencies.

Earlier, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) released an updated list of Red, Green and Yellow List countries.

The lists are effective starting October 16, 2021 up to October 31, 2021.

Romania has been classified under Red List, while 49 countries have been placed under the green list.

Included in the Green List are Algeria, American Samoa, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Chad, China (Mainland), Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Cook Islands, Eritrea, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Gibraltar, Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of China), Kiribati, Madagascar, Mali, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Montserrat, Nauru, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Niue, North Korea, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Poland, Saba (Special Municipality of the Kingdom of the Netherlands), Saint Helena, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Sint Eustatius, Solomon Islands, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tokelau, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu and Yemen.

The IATF said that all other countries not mentioned are classified under the Yellow List.

The testing and quarantine protocols of those arriving under these lists, according to the IATF, shall be implemented and monitored by the Bureau of Quarantine.

“Despite these travel restrictions, we remain hopeful that international travel will be safely revived soon,” said Morente.

Cebu-bound tourists whose final destination is Mactan island must comply with Lapu-Lapu City’s travel requirements, which is a negative RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) or Antigen test result prior to departure. 

In Butuan, Tacloban, Guimaras, Coron, Negros Occidental, and in Maguindanao, fully vaccinated travelers may present their Vaccination Cards while local officials in Culion requires travelers to bring vaccination cards with negative RT-PCR test result.

In Dipolog City, fully vaccinated APOR (authorized person outside residence) travelers under official business whose stay does not exceed 48 hours may present their vaccination cards instead of a negative RT-PCR result.  

In Iloilo, returning residents and returning overseas Filipinos no longer need to present their RT-PCR test result.  

Negros Oriental officials said fully vaccinated travelers traveling to Dumaguete and in Negros Oriental may take an Antigen test with a negative result (valid up to 48 hours upon release of result) instead of an RT-PCR test and present their Vaccination Cards.  

In Ozamiz, fully vaccinated travelers may present their vaccination card and negative Antigen Test Result (taken within 72 hours of departure) in lieu of taking the RT-PCR test.  

Fully vaccinated APOR travelers who intend to stay in Puerto Princesa City for a maximum of three days only may present their vaccination cards/records to be exempted from the mandatory 10-day quarantine.  

“We welcome the latest moves by key LGUs to relax travel protocols, including those for travel to Cebu, Iloilo, Butuan, Dipolog, Tacloban, Dumaguete, Cagayan de Oro, Palawan and other areas. We are hopeful that more LGUs will follow suit in easing travel protocols,” said Dexter Lee, PAL Senior Vice President for Strategy and Planning.

“The government’s intensified vaccination drive across various provinces is an important factor in these decisions to make travel more convenient while ensuring the safety of everyone,” he added. 

Lee said the airline urged air travelers to take advantage of their fully vaccinated status when traveling to domestic destinations.  

“PAL continues to airlift essential vaccines to various parts of the country, in partnership with the Philippine government. To date, PAL has carried 8.7 million vaccine doses from Manila to provinces in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. This comprises 45% of the total number of vaccine doses flown domestically since March this year,” he said.

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