Ease travel restrictions for fully-vaccinated tourists, Gatchalian asks gov't

Published June 7, 2021, 11:52 AM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday, June 7, appealed to the authorities to consider relaxing COVID-19 testing and quarantine rules for foreign and local tourists who have been fully vaccinated.

Passengers show their travel documents to authorities at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 on May 6, 2021. (Ali Vicoy/MANILA BULLETIN)

In a statement, the senator said the move will help stimulate the Philippines’ economy.

“If we’re easing travel restrictions on fully vaccinated Filipinos returning from trips abroad, I don’t see any reason why we should exclude those fully vaccinated foreign and local tourists as they are similarly situated,” Gatchalian, vice chairperson of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee said.

“Besides, there’s more to gain economically speaking as it will bring back the workers in the tourism sector,” he added.

Under the new protocols issued by the the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on Friday, June 4, travelers who were vaccinated in the Philippines and went abroad will now only need to undergo seven-day quarantine when they return home.

Those vaccinated abroad, meanwhile, are required to undergo a 10-day quarantine.

An RT-PCR or swab test will only be done if the person manifests symptoms during the quarantine period.

Gatchalian, on the other hand, noted that the European Union (EU) Commission recently laid down a proposal exempting vaccinated people from testing or quarantines when travelling from one EU country to another.

He also cited the latest guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that while fully-vaccinated international travelers bound for the US, including its citizens, are recommended to get COVID-19 test three to five days after travel, they do not need to undergo quarantine.

Earlier, Senate President Vicente Sotto III appealed to the IATF to lift the mandatory 14-day quarantine for fully-vaccinated travelers, to also encourage the entry of investors into the Philippines.

Gatchalian said the easing of travel restriction could also be a way to address vaccine hesitancy among Filipinos.

“Marami sa atin ang gusto nang makapamasyal, pero kung napagtanto nila na maaari nilang magawa ito kung nabakunahan na sila, tiyak na dadami ang bilang ng mga pupunta sa mga vaccination centers (Many of us are longing to travel, so if people realize they can if they get vaccinated, for sure they will go to vaccination centers),” he said.

The government has started vaccinating government and economic frontliners under the A4 category.