COVID task force to discuss possible easing of border controls

Davinci Maaru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 20 2022 06:02 PM

Domestic travelers prepare to board their flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminal 3 in Pasay City on April 7, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File
Domestic travelers prepare to board their flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminal 3 in Pasay City on April 7, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File


MANILA — The pandemic task force is mulling the possibility of further relaxing border restrictions in the country, the Department of Health said on Tuesday.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is set to reconvene in the next few weeks, said DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire. 

"During the first IATF, we have agreed... that we will have our Technical Working Group of the IATF to already discuss the border restrictions in the country, whether it be foreign, whether it be national. Titignan natin kung base sa safety protocols natin ay puwede nating ma-ease some of those restrictions," she said in a press briefing.

(We will look at whether we can ease some of those restrictions based on our safety protocols.)

The Philippines' testing, isolation and quarantine protocols are also up for discussion in the IATF, Vergeire said.

Dozens of countries have scrapped all COVID-19 travel restrictions.

In February, the Philippines reopened its borders to foreign tourists who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Vergeire said the country still conforms to Executive Order 168, in which the functions of the IATF include preventing or minimizing the entry of suspected or confirmed patients with emerging infectious diseases. 

Any foreign national without any form of vaccination for COVID-19 is not allowed entry yet here in the Philippines, she said.

"Based on the directives of the President na sabi niya mas makapagbukas pa tayo further ng mga sectors at mas maluwagan natin ang ating mga restrictions sa borders, pag-uusapan ito lahat sa IATF because we need to be able to rescind kung saka-sakali, o amyendahan itong EO 168 for us to relax these restrictions," Vergeire said.

(Based on the directives of the President, he said we can further open our sectors and loosen our restrictions on borders, all these will be discussed in the IATF because we need to rescind or amend this EO 168 for us to relax these restrictions, if ever.) 

"Lahat pinag-aaralan ngayon. Even the border restrictions, pinag-aaralan na po ng mga eksperto natin para sa susunod natin na IATF, we will be able to discuss these also with the other sectors," she added.

(All this is being studied. Even the border restrictions are being studied by our experts so that in the next IATF, we will be able to discuss these also with the other sectors.)

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