MANILA - Provinces and local government units will decide if they will require tourists to undergo RT-PCR COVID-19 tests before entry, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Wednesday.
The country's coronavirus task force recently eased restrictions by removing the mandatory RT-PCR tests for domestic travel, in a bid to boost tourism and economic activities.
However, it is up to the LGU to require tests as they see fit, Romulo-Puyat said during the distribution of cash assistance to affected tourism workers in Rizal province.
"The protocols are really up to the local government unit. It is the decision of the LGU kung maglalagay sila ng test before travel whether its saliva or swab (if they want to impose test before travel)," Romulo-Puyat said.
"Yung mga ibang LGU ayaw pa rin magbukas kahit MGCQ [modified general community quarantine] kasi feeling nila hindi pa sila ready. Now on the other hand, there are other LGUs na feeling nila ready sila and there is no need for test before travel," she added.
(Some LGUs still refuse to open up despite being under MGCQ because they feel like they're not yet ready. Now on the other hand, there are other LGUs who fell that they're ready and that there is no need for test before travel).
When asked whether removing the RT-PCR test requirement was wise amidst rising cases and the new COVID-19 variants, the tourism chief said "halos lahat (almost all), they require test before travel."
Romulo-Puyat said the following destinations still require RT-PCR tests:
- El Nido
- San Vicente (reopening on March 15)
- Puerto Princesa (reopening on March 15)
- Ilocos Norte
- Ilocos Sur
- Pangasinan (reopening this month)
- La Union (reopening this month)
The coronavirus pandemic has dampened the otherwise vibrant tourism sector in the Philippines.
Losses in terms of potential revenue from international tourists in 2020 were estimated to reach P400 billion, Romulo-Puyat earlier said.
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