DOT proposes easing arrival protocols for fully vaccinated travelers; PAL supports “green-lane” approach to help revive safe tourist travel

by Ricky Rillera

Passenger arrivals at Ninoy Aquino International Airport | Photo via UNTV

NEW YORK – A reduced quarantine period for arriving fully vaccinated passengers is under consideration by the Department of Tourism (DOT), Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in an interview with CNN Philippines Tuesday, May 25.

Bernadette Romulo-Puyat | Photo via Tourism Promotions Board

She said they are exploring this option, including proposing a “green lane” for fully vaccinated foreigners. She added that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID is working with DOT, DOH, and other government agencies to review possible changes in arrival protocols.

At present, all arriving passengers are required to undergo a 10-day facility quarantine and four days at home upon arrival, whether they have been fully vaccinated or not.

In considering the proposals, Puyat cited the policy of neighboring countries.

“In Thailand, if you’re fully vaccinated, it’s down from 10 days to seven quarantine days for fully vaccinated. In Hong Kong, it’s also down from 21 days also to seven days for fully vaccinated but coming from certain countries. So, we were thinking that if other countries are already doing it, it should also be discussed with the Department of Health, the health experts,” Puyat said.

The Philippines has yet to open its doors to foreign travelers.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Air Lines (PAL), the nation’s flag carrier, has also called for a “green lane” approach to help revive safe tourist travel and more convenient repatriation.

In a statement, PAL said it supports efforts by the Philippine government in considering the revision of its current protocols.

Gilbert Santa Maria | Photo via Crunchbase

“We look forward to easier entry for fully-vaccinated travelers as a way of jumpstarting the aviation, travel and tourism industries that support Filipino jobs and the economy. A good number of our passengers flying in from the U.S. have completed their full vaccine doses. We could welcome more travelers from the U.S. and other countries with favorable epidemiological situations, such as Singapore, Australia, Israel and Korea,” said PAL President and COO Gilbert Santa Maria.

Added Santa Maria: “Safe and convenient travel with access to prime tourist sites and no quarantine requirements can help encourage more people to have themselves vaccinated. To fuel domestic tourism recovery, we should also strive for more air connectivity and a standardized set of travel guidelines and health protocols.”

PAL also said that medical experts should be part of the review process and pledged to collaborate with health authorities in ensuring the “strongest safety standards” against virus spread. “PAL’s fleet is equipped with state of the art cabin filtration and air flow systems that provide hospital-grade protection, in addition to rigorous cleaning and disinfecting protocols,” PAL added.

PAL also mentioned Willie Walsh, Director-General of the International Air Transportation (IATA), who said, “There is increasing scientific evidence that vaccination is not only protecting people but also dramatically reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. This is bringing us closer to a world where vaccination and testing enables the freedom to travel without quarantine.”

To know more about the latest United States Centers for Disease Control’s (USCDC) guidance on international travel, information is provided on this link. The CDC updates these recommendations.

Here is an infographic of US CDC’s International Travel Recommendations Quick Reference.

Source: US Centers for Disease Control

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