A Covid jab could reopen travel

MANILA, 24 May 2021: Philippines’ Department of Tourism is proposing “green lane” travel that would ease border controls for vaccinated travellers.

Philstar Global reported the country’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases took the proposal onboard for further consideration.

The DOT is still hoping it can welcome foreign tourists to the Philippines later this year, starting with fully vaccinated tourists who would not need to quarantine for 14 days. However, the Covid-19 PCR swab test would still be required before travellers board flights to the Philippines.

Philstar Global quoted Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat saying: “The green lane will pave the way for the reopening of our tourist destinations to leisure travellers who are now fully vaccinated. It will give the jobs back to many of our tourism workers and gradually revive the tourism industry under safe conditions.”

Green channels have not been very successful so far as outbreaks of Covid-19 variants such as the UK and India strains disrupted plans to ease travel rules in countries that had previously successfully controlled the spread of the virus. Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan are now reporting spikes in new infections, and they were the obvious choices for travel bubbles.

However, a green channel for vaccinated travellers could at least reduce or eliminate the need to undergo a lengthy quarantine if combined with a pre-flight Covid-19 PCR test.

The inter-agency task force earlier ordered the DOT and several other government agencies to craft protocols for easing inbound international travel for fully vaccinated visitors. DOT responded with its ‘green channel’ proposal.

So far, around 20 countries, according to IATA, are opening their borders for vaccinated travellers, including Thailand but mostly for business travellers.

Source: DOT and Philstar)