The Philippines will reopen its borders next week to fully-vaccinated tourists from areas deemed as low risk for Covid-19, Malacañang announced Friday.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a televised briefing that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) had approved the entry of foreign nationals from select countries starting 1 to 15 December.
Under the guidelines, they should present state-recognized documents as proof of their Covid-19 vaccination, such as the World Health Organization International Certificates of Vaccination and Prophylaxis, VaxCertPH, and a digital certificate of the foreign government which has accepted VaxCertPH under a reciprocal arrangement unless otherwise permitted by the IATF.
Travelers who will enter the country should hold passports that are valid for at least six months at the time of arrival. They should also have return or outbound tickets to their countries of origin or next destinations.
The government requires them to stay exclusively for two weeks in any of the 44 countries under the Green list prior to their arrival in the Philippines.
These include American Samoa, Bhutan, Chad, China, Comoros, Ivory Coast, Malvinas, Federated States of Micronesia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, and Japan.
Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Mali, Marshall Islands, Montserrat, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Northern Mariana Islands, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, and Paraguay are also part of the list.
Also among the Green list are Rwanda, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sint Eustatius, South Africa, Sudan, Taiwan, Togo, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Nograles said the travelers will be required to have negative RT-PCR test results taken 72 hours before departure from their countries of origin.
Upon arrival in the Philippines, they will not be required to go on quarantine or take another coronavirus test. They are, however, urged to self-monitor for any coronavirus symptoms for 14 days.
Minors entering the country will 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 will be ordered to undergo facility quarantine until the release of their negative RT-PCR screening taken on the fifth day.
Nograles, along with Immigration spokesperson Dana Krizia Sandoval, assured the public that authorities will ensure that the foreigners entering the country are following the health protocols set by the government.
“We have a system in place to execute IATF’s directives should it decide to reverse the policy, and we have sufficient manpower to address it,” Sandoval said in the same media briefing.
The latest relaxation of rules, Nograles said, is “really our chance and opportunity to rebound the economy.”
A major driver of the Philippine economy, tourism accounted for nearly 13 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2019. The tourism industry also provides sources of income to millions of Filipinos across the archipelago.
The country saw a significant drop in foreign arrivals last year after it closed its borders amid the pandemic, receiving only nearly 1.4 million visitors, 83 percent lower compared to nearly 8.2 million arrivals in 2019.
Following improvements in Covid-19 situation, the government eased travel restrictions in recent weeks.
Authorities have so far detected 2.8 million coronavirus infections in the country. Of these, 1.6 percent or 47,000 cases have been fatal.
On the other hand, nearly 35 million of the Philippines’ 110 million population have been vaccinated.