No mandatory testing, quarantine: IATF eases cross-border travel, unifies protocols

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 27 2021 11:41 AM


MANILA - The Inter-Agency Task Force leading government's COVID-19 response approved on Friday unified travel protocols for all local government units, easing cross-border trips amid still varying quarantine levels in the country nearly a year into the pandemic. 

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Saturday morning the Uniform Travel Protocols for land, air and sea was drafted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government in coordination with the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), the League of Provinces of the Philippines, League of Municipalities of the Philippines and the League of Cities of the Philippines.

Under the rules, COVID-19 testing and quarantine are no longer mandatory for local travelers. 

“Nagpapasalamat kami sa lahat ng opisyal dahil kapag mayroon tayong common procedure ay mas mapapabilis po ang pagbiyahe sa loob ng Pilipinas,” saidPalace spokesman Harry Roque.

(We thank all officials because when we have a common procedure, traveling within the country will go faster.)

Various LGUs have been enforcing their own respective entry protocol amid the COVID-19 quarantine. 

With the unified travel protocols, testing is no longer required for domestic travelers, says Roque, though the LGU may still ask for test results. 
 
“Hindi na po required na sumailalim sa COVID-19 testing ang isang biyahero liban na lang kung ang LGU of destination ay humingi ng testing bago ang biyahe. Ang testing ay limitado lang sa RT-PCR test,” he said.

(Undergoing COVID-19 testing is no longer required for travelers, except if the LGU of destination requires it prior to travel. Testing is limited only to RT-PCR.)

Travelers, Roque added, are also no longer required to undergo quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms upon arrival at the LGU of destination.

Health protocols such as physical distancing, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and wearing of face masks, and face shields among others, shall still be strictly implemented.

Roque said clinical and exposure assessment shall be strictly implemented in all ports of entry and exit. Health assessment of passengers, supervised by medical doctors, shall be mandatory upon entry in the port or terminal and exit at point of destination.

Meanwhile, documentary requirements like the travel authority issued by the Joint Task Force COVID Shield and health certificates shall no longer be required, but Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APORs) from the national government and attached agencies must still provide their identification card, travel order, and travel itinerary and pass symptom-screening at ports of entry and exit.

The Department of Science and Technology’s Safe, Swift, and Smart Passage (S-PaSS) travel management system will be the one-stop-shop application/communication for travelers. 

Meanwhile, contact-tracing applications, like the Traze app for airports, must be integrated with the StaySafe.ph system.

Ports and terminals, on the other hand, must have enough quarantine/isolation facilities and put in place a referral system for travelers who become symptomatic. 

For the National Capital Region, provincial buses are required to use the Integrated Terminal Exchange as the hub for transportation.

The IATF does not allow any bus company or public transport to use private terminals. Local government units may provide transportation for all travelers who are transiting to another area in cases of arrivals at air and seaports.

Under the latest government announcement, Metro Manila and 9 other areas in the country will remain under general community quarantine through March, while the rest will be under modified general community quarantine.

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