IATF approves uniform protocols for safe, smooth travel

Published February 27, 2021, 11:57 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government pandemic task force has approved the uniform set of travel protocols for land, air and sea across the country while keeping strict health protocols in-place.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. (YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The common travel protocols include the scrapping of the mandatory COVID-19 testing, except when required by the local government unit (LGU) of destination, as well as the need to go on quarantine unless the traveler shows symptoms of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The latest decision on the travel guidelines was made by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) following the recommendation by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and in coordination with LGUs to ensure safe and smooth travel across the country. The common protocols, approved in a meeting of the IATF Friday, will take effect immediately, according to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

Testing and Quarantine

Appearing on state television Saturday, Feb. 27, Roque said testing will “not be mandatory” for travelers, except if the local government of destination will require testing as a requirement prior to travel, and such shall be limited to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

No traveler shall be required to undergo quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms upon arrival at the place of destination, he added.

Minimum public health standards

Despite the uniform travel protocols, Roque said physical distancing, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and wearing of face masks and face shields among others, shall be strictly implemented across all settings.

Roque said clinical and exposure assessment shall be strictly implemented in all ports of entry and exit. “Health assessment of passengers, supervised by medical doctors, shall be mandatory upon entry in the port/terminal and exit at point of destination,” he said.

Documentary requirements

Travelers would no longer be required to get a health certificate, as well as travel authority issued by Joint Task Force COVID

“APORs (Authorized Persons Outside Residence) from national government agencies and their attached agencies must provide their identification card, travel order, and travel itinerary, and must pass symptom- screening at ports of entry and exit,” Roque said.

Contact tracing efforts

Roque said the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST)’s Safe, Swift, and Smart Passage (S-PaSS) Travel Management System will be the one-stop-shop application/communication for travelers.

The Traze App for airports, and such other existing contact tracing applications must be integrated with the StaySafe.ph System, he added.

Ports and terminals

According to Roque, all terminals must have assigned sufficient quarantine and isolation facilities.

“All ports and terminals shall put in place a referral system wherein travelers who become symptomatic shall be transferred to quarantine/isolation facilities to enable BOQ (Bureau of Quarantine) for airports, or local health officials in case of LGUs, to take over,” he said.

In Metro Manila, he said all buses bound for provinces shall be required to use the Integrated Terminal Exchange as the central hub for transportation.

No bus company or public transport shall be allowed use of their private terminals.

Roque also said LGUs may provide transportation for all travelers who are transiting from one LGU to another in cases of arrivals at air and seaports to their end-point destinations.

“These uniform travel protocols shall be applicable to all LGUs and may be further refined and/or amended jointly by the DILG, DOH (Department of Health), DOT (Department of Tourism), DOTr (Department of Transportation), DOST (Department of Science and Technology), and the PNP (Philippine National Police), without further need of an IATF issuance. For this purpose, the aforementioned agencies as well as other identified agencies, and the local government units are enjoined to ensure smooth implementation of these protocols,” the IATF Resolution No. 101 read.