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DoTr issues latest travel protocols

Raffy Ayeng



Following the announcement made by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) regarding the unified travel protocols for all local government units (LGU), the Department of Transportation (DoTr) has released its public advisory on the “Latest Standardized Travel Protocols” for land, sea and air transport.

According to DoTr’s Office of Transportation Security (OTS) administrator Undersecretary Raul del Rosario, all passengers should still observe minimum public health standards, such as physical distancing, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and wearing of masks and shields, among others, and shall be strictly implemented across all settings, as approved by the IATF on Friday.

Likewise, clinical and exposure assessment will be strictly implemented in all ports of entry and exit to ensure that only asymptomatic and non-close contact individuals are allowed to travel or enter the LGU of destination.

Del Rosario said that health assessments of passengers, as supervised by medical doctors, shall be mandatory upon entry at the port/terminal and exit at the point of destination.

He said the new standardized travel protocols insists that testing shall not be mandatory for travelers, except if the LGU of destination (province, highly urbanized cities, or independent component cities will require testing as a requirement prior to travel and such shall be limited to RT-PCR or swab test.

The latest ruling coming from the IATF also said that no traveler will be required to undergo quarantine procedures, unless they exhibit symptoms upon arrival at the LGU of destination.

Furthermore, the travel authority issued by the Joint Task Force Covid Shield and health certificate will no longer be required, the official added.

While Authorized Persons Outside of Residence or APOR from national government agencies and their attached offices are mandated to provide their identification cards, travel orders, and travel itinerary, and must pass symptom-screening at the ports of entry or exit pursuant to IATF Resolution 98-A issued on 4 February 2021.

“The Safe, Swift and Smart Passage Travel Management System of the Department of Science and Technology shall be institutionalized as the one-stop-shop application/communication for travelers.

For this purpose, a focal person from the province with respect to their municipalities and component cities, and from highly urbanized cities and independent component cities shall be assigned,” the new rule further said.

All passengers should still observe minimum public health standards, such as physical distancing, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and wearing of masks and shields.

Likewise, the System will be utilized as the primary contact tracing system.

While that Traze App for airports, and such other existing contact tracing applications, must be integrated with the System following IATF Resolution 85 issued on 25 November 2020.

All terminals must have assigned sufficient quarantine/isolation facilities, while all ports and terminals shall put in place a referral system where travelers who become symptomatic shall be transferred to quarantine/isolation facilities to enable the Bureau of Quarantine at the airports, or local health officials in case of LGUs, to take over.

“For the National Capital Region, all buses bound for the provinces shall be required to use the Integrated Terminal Exchange as the central hub for transportation.

No bus company or public transport shall be allowed use of their private terminals,” the advisory added.

At their option, the concerned LGU may provide transportation for all travelers who are transiting from one place to another in case of arrivals at air and seaports to their end-point destinations.

More provincial buses to operate With the latest easing of protocols, some routes of provincial buses will soon be opened, adding to the buses and routes that were earlier allowed to ply and operate in selected provinces.

According to Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Hope Libiran, there are LGU that opened since last year, where the process involves informing the
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) that they are opening their borders already.

“After they inform the LTFRB, it will open the routes to and from that province,” she added.

Currently, there are 349 routes and 5,348 bus units that have been allowed to operate, based on the latest summary from the DoTr.