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Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion thanked the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) for its decision to ease international travel restrictions.
“This will definitely help the economy and sustain the growth we experienced in the fourth quarter of 2021,” he said.
On January 28, the IATF announced Resolution No. 159, which lifted facility-based quarantines for returning overseas Filipinos and foreign nationals regardless of their country of origin. Instead, arriving passengers will be allowed to self-monitor for any signs or symptoms for seven days of their arrival and report to the local government of destination upon manifesting symptoms.
The IATF now only requires fully vaccinated international arriving passengers to present a negative RT-PCR test taken 48 hours prior to departure. The order becomes effective February 1 for fully vaccinated returning overseas Filipinos, and February 10 for fully vaccinated foreign nationals from non-visa required countries
The order also temporarily suspends the classification of countries as either “Green”, “Yellow”, or “Red”.
“This aligns with the proposal to adopt a change from a pandemic to an endemic mindset,” said Concepcion.
Concepcion also lauded the move as the necessary push that will revive the country’s tourism sector, which has suffered immensely due to nearly two years of travel restrictions designed to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“We can now welcome both leisure and business travelers, and this will redound to benefits downstream for our MSMEs,” he said.
Concepcion and OCTA Research Fellow Fr. Nicanor Austriaco had earlier asked the IATF to begin mapping out the country’s exit plan from the pandemic. Among the first steps suggested was the easing of international travel restrictions, as this was believed to create downstream benefits to the country’s economy. Moreover, it was seen as important to creating confidence in vaccines.
While the Philippines experienced a spike in new infections following the holiday season and the entry of the Omicron variant, cases have been observed to have declined as of mid-January and are believed to further dip by February.