IATF defied as Cebu SP OKs ordinance easing travel restrictions

Published May 10, 2021, 5:25 PM

by Calvin Cordova 

CEBU CITY – A proposed ordinance that runs counter to the travel restrictions set by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF-MEID) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease has been approved by the Cebu Provincial Board or Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP).

The Provincial Board passed Monday an ordinance titled Easing the Restrictions for Persons Entering the Province of Cebu in Observance of the IATF-MEID Guidelines as of January 21, 2022, and the IATF-MEID Resolution No. 98-A, Series of 2021 and Defining the Protocols to be Observed by Repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Returning Non-OFWs Traveling to the Province of Cebu.

The passing of the ordinance came a few days after the IATF-MEID approved the recommendation of the Department of Health (DOH) to move the COVID-19 testing for inbound travelers to the seventh day of quarantine.

Previous protocols from the IATF mandate that all inbound passengers, regardless of country of origin, to stay in a quarantine facility upon arrival and undergo RT-PCR swab test on the fifth day of their quarantine.

The IATF protocols are in contrast with the rules found in the ordinance.

“There is a need to ease the restrictions imposed upon persons intending to enter Cebu province,” said Cebu 3rd District Board Member John Ismael Borgonia, the author of the proposed ordinance which was certified as urgent by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.

Garcia has said that the current travel restrictions have become an additional financial burden for travelers.

The new provincial ordinance incorporated the rules found in the Executive Orders (EOs) No. 9 and 17 that the governor previously issued in connection with the influx of travelers, both from domestic and overseas destinations.

In EO No. 9, arriving travelers need not present a negative RT-PCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) test results upon arrival and will only have to present medical certificates showing they are fit to travel.

EO No. 17 also removed the mandatory quarantine for returning Filipino travelers from abroad and that they should be swabbed for COVID-19 upon arrival – not on the sixth after arrival.

Also, those waiting for the test results will have to stay in a designated hotel until they are confirmed to be COVID-free.