MANILA (UPDATE) — The Philippines will reopen in the first half of December to select tourists who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, government said on Friday, as part of efforts to rebuild an economy hit hard by the pandemic.
From Dec. 1 to 15, fully vaccinated nationals of non-visa required countries will be allowed to enter the Philippines, said Palace acting spokesman Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
These travelers should satisfy the following conditions, he said in a press briefing.
- Their passport should be valid for at least 6 months at the time of arrival. They should have a return or outbound ticket to their country of origin or next destination.
- Prior to arrival in Philippines, they should have stayed exclusively for 14 days in a Green List area with low COVID-19 cases.
- They must have proof of vaccination.
"This is something we are doing step by step," Nograles said, adding that the 2-week window could be extended.
The immigration bureau later confirmed that foreign tourists would be part of the reopening.
"Starting Dec. 1, yes, ‘yong mga tourists coming from the green list counties within the last 14 days… puwede pong pumasok (can enter)," said bureau spokesperson Dana Sandoval.
Nograles said the travelers would be required to have a negative RT-PCR test taken 72 hours before departure from their country of origin. Upon arrival in the Philippines, they will not be required to go on quarantine or take another coronavirus test.
But he said the passenger is urged to self-monitor for any symptoms for 14 days.
Travelers merely transiting through Green List areas shall not be deemed as having come from these territories "if they stayed in the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry," said Nograles.
He said minors shall follow the testing and quarantine requirements of the parent or guardian traveling with them.
Vaccinated individuals who fail to comply with test-before-travel requirements shall be required to undergo facility quarantine until the release of a negative RT-PCR screening taken on the fifth day, Nograles said.
The Philippines, popular for its white sand beaches and rich marine life, shut its doors to foreign tourists at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020.
Its tourism arrivals from top markets Japan, South Korea and China plummeted to 1.4 million last year.
"We’re seeing more movement of people both coming in and out of the country," said Sandoval. "Siguro by the end of the year or early next year, makakakita tayo ng higher figures than the ones we have seen for 2020."
(Perhaps by the end of the year or early next year, we will see higher figures than the ones we have seen for 2020.)
Nearly 35 million of Philippines' 109 million population has been vaccinated.
In Southeast Asia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia have reopened borders to foreign tourists.
— With a report from Reuters
Video courtesy of PTV