IATF orders strict enforcement of health protocols for inbound int’l travelers

Published June 18, 2021, 11:04 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The national government is not about to tolerate any defiance of its arrival protocols for incoming international travelers.

President Rodrigo Duterte holds a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members prior to his public address at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on June 14, 2021. (Malacañang)

The government’s pandemic task force has mobilized concerned state agencies, including transport, police and military units, to strictly enforce the protocols for international arrivals to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) issued the latest directive following reports that the province of Cebu continued to implement its own swab test-upon-arrival policy for returning Filipinos, which was different from the national government’s rules.

“IATF reiterates the strict enforcement of current testing and quarantine protocols duly approved and issued by the IATF for inbound international travelers in all ports of the country regardless of any specific protocols that may be issued the local government units on the contrary,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement Friday, June 18.

“Member-agencies of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, specifically the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Health and the Bureau of Quarantine, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, among others, with their respective regional offices, attached agencies, and government-owned and controlled corporations, have been instructed to ensure strict adherence to the abovementioned directive,” he added.

READ: Duterte orders Cebu: Follow IATF protocols for arriving int’l travelers

President Duterte recently ordered Cebu to follow the national government’s testing and quarantine protocols against coronavirus for arriving international passengers.

The implementation of the IATF arrival protocols in Cebu was ordered after the Palace order to divert Cebu-bound flights to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) expired last June 12. The Manila airport temporarily became the alternative hub due to the shortage of quarantine facilities in Cebu.

Despite the President’s directive, Cebu has reportedly insisted on enforcing its own swab test-upon-arrival policy for returning Filipinos at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, which was different from the national government’s guidelines.

READ: Once again, it’s ‘swab-upon-arrival’ for OFWs, ROFs in Cebu

Upon arrival at Cebu airport, returning travelers have been required to take the coronavirus test upon arrival at the airport and permitted those who test negative to proceed to their destination.

The IATF, on the other hand, has mandated incoming passengers undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. The first 10 days shall be observed in an accredited quarantine facility, with the remainder will be completed under home quarantine. They will undergo the polymerase chain reaction test on the seventh day of their quarantine.

Travelers vaccinated in the country, meanwhile, will have a shorter quarantine period of seven days upon arrival. They will only be tested if they show coronavirus symptoms during quarantine.