A Palace official has thanked the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) for its decision to ease international travel restrictions.
Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Jose 'Joey' Concepcion III said that the IATF's move "will definitely help the economy and sustain the growth we experienced in the fourth quarter of 2021".
On Friday, Jan. 28, the IATF announced Resolution No. 159, which lifted facility-based quarantines for returning overseas Filipinos and foreign nationals regardless of their country of origin.
Instead, arriving passengers will be allowed to self-monitor for any signs or symptoms of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) for seven days upon their arrival. Should they manifest symptoms, they are required to report to the local government of destination.
The IATF now only requires fully vaccinated international arriving passengers to present a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test taken 48 hours prior to departure. The order becomes effective Feb. 1 for fully vaccinated returning overseas Filipinos, and Feb. 10 for fully vaccinated foreign nationals from non-visa required countries
Most notably, the order temporarily suspends the classification of countries as either “green”, “yellow”, or “red”.
“This aligns with the proposal to adopt a change from a pandemic to an endemic mindset,” said Concepcion.
Concepcion also lauded the move as the necessary push that will revive the country’s tourism sector, which has suffered immensely due to nearly two years of travel restrictions designed to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“We can now welcome both leisure and business travelers, and this will redound to benefits downstream for our MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises),” he said.
Concepcion and OCTA Research Fellow Fr. Nicanor Austriaco had earlier asked the IATF to begin mapping out the country’s "exit plan" from the pandemic.
Among the initial steps they suggested was the easing of international travel restrictions, as this was believed to create downstream benefits to the country’s economy.
Moreover, the move was seen as important to creating confidence in COVID-19 vaccines.
While the Philippines experienced a spike in new infections following the holiday season and the entry of the Omicron variant, cases have been observed to have declined as of mid-January. They are expected to further dip by February.