Philippines to end Covid-19 protocols

MANILA, 27 October 2022: The Philippines’ President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr has approved removing the Covid-19 test requirements for incoming visitors and lifting the mask-wearing mandate for indoor settings.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco announced the changes at a press briefing held at the Malacañang Palace on Wednesday, following the Cabinet meeting with the President.

Photo credit: Department of Tourism Philippines.

“The direction of the Marcos Administration is to lift the remainder of travel restrictions into the Philippines, which includes easing our mask mandates to allow our country to be at par with our ASEAN neighbours who have long liberalised their mask mandates,” said Secretary Frasco.

“In addition to this, it was also discussed that the remainder of stringent protocols, such as the requirement of pre-departure testing into the Philippines, should also be removed,” added the DOT Chief.

Indoor mask-wearing will still be required on public transport, medical transport, and medical facilities.

The Tourism Secretary also announced that President Marcos Jr. would issue an Executive Order allowing fully-vaccinated visitors to the Philippines to enter the country without the Covid-19 test requirement. Meanwhile, unvaccinated guests will be given the option to take an antigen test 24 hours before travel or upon arrival in the Philippines. This policy will supersede the stringent Covid-19 test and quarantine requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated visitors.

Earlier, the government announced the removal of the One Health Pass (OHP) to make way for the more traveller-friendly eArrival cards, a joint undertaking of the Department of Health (DOH), Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in coordination with the DOT and the Department of Information, Communication and Technology (DICT). The electronic arrival portal aims to simplify entry procedures for travellers.

Secretary Frasco clarified that according to the President’s direction, registration through the eArrival cards should not be mandatory before boarding. Additionally, special lanes will be provided in the airport for those who are unable to complete the registration process.

“Twenty questions that used to be in place have now been reduced to ten, specifically those that are tourism-related. And as agreed during the meeting, it was clarified that the filling out of the eArrival card would not be made mandatory as a prerequisite to boarding. In other words, you will be able to fill out the eArrival card at your convenience before departure or upon arrival,” said Secretary Frasco.

“The overarching direction of the Marcos Administration is to allow our country to convey an openness and a readiness to the world to receive tourists and investments so that we would give our fellow Filipinos an opportunity to regain all the livelihood and losses that were incurred during the pandemic. We are optimistic that with all of these restrictions being lifted by the Marcos Administration, this can only redound to the benefit of the lives of millions of Filipinos as well as the reinvigoration of the tourism industry. In the end, we cannot go on in a pandemic perspective because we have to allow our country to thrive while maintaining basic health protocol on the one hand and safeguarding and protecting livelihood and the economy on the other,” the tourism chief explained.

As of 24 October  2022, the DOT has recorded 1,827,603 visitor arrivals exceeding the 1.7 million forecast for the current year. The biggest bulk of tourists came from the US at 346,806 or 18.98%, South Korea with 250,021 or 13.68%, and Australia with 85,986 or 4.70%. Canada comes next with 78,366 or 4.29% and the UK with 69,482 or 3.80% arrivals.

(Source: Department of Tourism Philippines)

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