No more color-coded countries, quarantine for fully-vaxxed inbound travelers
The government has suspended its COVID-19 risk classification for inbound travelers, allowing all fully-vaccinated returning Filipinos and even foreigners traveling for business and leisure to enter without need to undergo facility-based quarantine starting February 10.
The new order for more relaxed quarantine protocols covers all inbound passengers after the risk classifications “green,” “yellow,” and “red” countries were suspended.
The government previously cut short the quarantine period for travelers from green and yellow countries but barred from entering those coming from areas listed under as red risk.
Travelers who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or whose vaccination status cannot be independently validated should show a negative RT-PCR test result taken 48 hours before departure. They will also be required to undergo facility-based quarantine until the release of a negative RT-PCR test taken on the fifth day from the date of arrival and will be required to undergo home quarantine until the 14th day.
All inbound foreign travelers are required to have travel insurance for COVID-19 treatment costs from reputable insurers, with a minimum coverage of USD35,000 (around P1.7 million) for the duration of their stay in the Philippines, obtained before arrival.
“Visa-free foreign nationals who fail to fully comply with the conditions and requisites shall be denied admission into the country and shall be subject to the appropriate exclusion proceedings,” acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said.
The new guidelines, approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), will take effect on Feb. 10 at 12:01 a.m.
Nograles said fully vaccinated Filipinos only need to present a negative result of an RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours before departure from the country of origin. Upon arrival, they will no longer be required to undergo facility-based quarantine but must self-monitor for any COVID-19 symptoms for seven days.
They will be required to report to the local government unit of destination if they show symptoms.
Nograles said Filipinos who have recovered from COVID-19 but still get a positive RT-PCR test result may still enter the country, provided that they present the following documents:
• Positive RT-PCR test taken not earlier than 10 days but not later than 30 days prior to departure from the country of origin
• Positive RT-PCR test result taken within 48 hours prior to departure
• A medical certificate issued by a licensed physician stating that the Filipino traveler completed mandatory isolation period for COVID-19, is no longer infectious, and has been allowed free movement and travel.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) hopes that the number of tourists in the country will see a gradual increase with the reopening of borders.
Commissioner Jaime Morente said he is looking at a steady increase in the number of tourists after almost two years of restrictions due to the pandemic.
The Bureau’s Airport Operations Division recorded a massive drop of arrivals in 2021, as compared to the year 2020.
“Last year we saw only 1.4 million arrivals, which is significantly lower than the 3.6 million in 2020. The numbers were dismal because pre-pandemic we were hitting 16.9 million arrivals,” Morente said.
The BI also reported that tourist extension applications dropped 53 percent in 2021.
The BI’s Tourist Visa Section (TVS) only processed a total of 111,781 applications for extension of stay of tourists, which was 53 percent lower than the 240,276 similar applications the office received in 2020.
Meanwhile, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Friday increased its maximum international passenger inbound capacity to 5,000.
The Civil Aeronautics Board reminded all airlines to ensure strict compliance with the applicable entry requirements and protocols for all its international arriving passengers under relevant IATF resolutions and policies.