MANILA - The Philippines and China are mulling establishing "green lanes" or fast lanes for travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Manila's top envoy to Beijing said Friday.
In a virtual forum, Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana said Chinese authorities proposed such arrangement to restore official and business travel and freight transport of both countries.
"They want to lift quarantine protocols on both sides to restore exchange. But it needs an agreement that's why we are discussing it now," he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Sta. Romana cited that some workers involved in the Philippines' priority infrastructure projects were stuck in China. The Philippines can also resume its export of fruits and other products to China, he added.
"So that’s what is under discussion so hopefully unti-unti (little by little), I think perhaps in another month or two, we can start with the fast lanes first and the green lanes then," he said.
With over 153,000 infections so far, the Philippines is considered a COVID-19 hot spot, Sta. Romana said.
China currently accepts Filipino travelers on a case-by-case basis such as work or for humanitarian reasons.
“They will look at the supporting documents, you can show that you have to go back [or] otherwise you will lose your job," Sta. Romana said.
On Tuesday, the Chinese embassy in Manila said travelers bound for China from the Philippines should obtain COVID-19 negative certificates before boarding their flights
Chinese and foreign travelers are required to take nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 within 5 days before boarding, and only those who tested negative will be allowed to fly, the embassy added.
Beijing is now considered a low-risk area as the virus has been brought under control in the Chinese capital, Sta. Romana said.
Clusters of cases are reported in other cities but Chinese authorities have concentrated efforts to control the virus’ spread, he added. The novel coronavirus originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan.