8 Philippine tourist spots ease travel curbs

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Image Credit: Screengrab / Bloomberg

Highlights

  • Filipino quarantine restrictions on fortified flyers from North America can be rescinded from next week
  • Japan cuts the quarantine period from 10 days to 3 days
  • South Korea eases travel restrictions, imposes vaccine passports

The Philippines can cancel quarantine measures in facilities for vaccinated travelers especially from North America from next week, as new cases fell to their lowest level in eight months.

Meanwhile, more Philippine local government units (LGUs) are expected to ease travel restrictions as the nationwide coronavirus vaccination campaign increases. LGUs are also expected to allow point-to-point travel for all ages – empowered by Philippine law to make decisions on imposing/easing travel restrictions within their jurisdiction.

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However, local decisions about easing travel restrictions depend on the level of vaccinations among the elderly, pregnant women and people with co-morbidities.

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With 58.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered, 22.2% of the Philippine population has now been fully vaccinated. This makes it 4th in ASEAN, and 23rd out of 205 countries. The government aims to increase the daily vaccination rate to 1.5 million doses.

On Tuesday (November 2), 2.4 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine landed in Manila, after the arrival on October 31 of 2 million shots from Pfizer donated by the United States under Covax, and 900,000 doses of AstraZeneca on October 28 donated by Japan.

Convenient Travel Protocols

Here is the role of LGUs in leading Philippine tourist spots that have relaxed travel protocols:

  • Cebu
  • Iloilo
  • Butuan
  • Dipolog
  • tacloban
  • Dumaguete
  • Cagayan de Oro and
  • palawan

The Tourism Ministry has launched free survey tests for domestic tourists, a move that could boost travel. Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines announced that it will resume flights to Manila to Bohol flights from November 22, followed by AirAsia PH from December 1.

Boracay is now open

The world-famous island of Boracay has reopened to tourists from General Community Quarantine (GCQ) areas from last month, following approval by the Interagency Task Force. Tourists heading to Boracay are required to submit negative RT-PCR test results within 72 hours prior to arrival and hotel reservation.

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Tourists heading to Boracay Island are required to submit negative RT-PCR test results within 72 hours prior to arrival and hotel reservation.

More LGUs are expected to follow suit. An extensive vaccination campaign across the country has helped ease travel restrictions while ensuring safety. On Tuesday, Davao City announced the lifting of the mandate for barriers in jeeps and other public utility vehicles because these barriers “will no longer be required”.

Lowest number in 8 months

The Philippines on Tuesday (November 2, 2021) recorded the lowest number of new cases of COVID-19 in the past eight months with 2,303 new infections, the lowest number of cases since March 3. The positivity rate – the percentage of people who have been tested and come back positive – has dropped to 6.8% based on 29,679 tests reported on October 31.

Meanwhile, the mandate to quarantine a facility for fully vaccinated Filipinos from North America may be rescinded as early as next week, in a move to encourage overseas Filipino workers to return home for the holidays.

Countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have been excluded from the most recent list of “green countries” or areas designated as low risk for COVID-19. Joey Concepcion, Presidential Adviser to Entrepreneurship, said vaccinated travelers will be tested 48 hours before departure and will be tested again upon arrival in the Philippines. Data from Philippine Airlines shows that the daily limit of 4,000 international passenger arrivals is a small fraction of the pre-pandemic average of 40,000.

Japan: Quarantine period should be reduced to 3 days from 10

Japanese broadcaster NHK reported Tuesday that the Japanese government plans to shorten the COVID-19 quarantine periods for incoming business travelers from 10 days to three days.

Tokyo

People wearing face masks as a precaution against COVID-19 visit Togoshi Ginza shopping street in Tokyo on August 1, 2020.
Image credit: Agence France-Presse

73% have been vaccinated

Japan has given 190 million doses of COVID-19, which is 72.9% of its population now fully immunized. NHK reported that easing may begin as early as next Monday. Moreover, Tokyo plans to increase the number of daily cross-border arrivals from 3,500 people to 5,000 later this month. The current Japanese 10-day quarantine period for travelers, regardless of vaccination status, has already been shortened from 14 days.

Business groups in Japan have urged the government to ease border restrictions to be more in line with major trading partners. The US and EU allow entry to travelers from most countries as long as they have proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

South Korea: Travel restrictions eased, vaccination passports implemented

South Korea announced the easing of travel restrictions as the “Coexist with COVID-19” scheme came into effect on Monday (November 1, 2021). South Korea’s health authorities have canceled all restrictions on working hours in restaurants and cafes even as the country implemented the first vaccine passport for high-risk places such as gyms, saunas and bars, where it is trying to “live with COVID-19”.

2021-10-26T071104Z_364663766_RC2GHQ9F6L9N_RTRMADP_3_TELEVISION-SQUID-GAME-SOUTHKOREA-DOLL- (READ ONLY)

People take a selfie with a giant doll named “Younghee” from the Netflix series “Squid Game” on display in a park in Seoul, South Korea.
Image Credit: Reuters

Officials said the first phase, which went into effect on Monday, will last for a month. Seoul plans to remove all restrictions by February 2022.

75% have been vaccinated

Nearly 75% of South Koreans have been fully vaccinated as of November 1. The country reported 1,588 new cases on Monday (November 1, 2021), bringing the total to 368,000, despite a decline in serious infections and deaths.

To ease the labor shortage companies are facing due to the epidemic, the South Korean government is preparing to ease restrictions on the entry of foreign workers as homegrown businesses

Under the Work Permit System (EPS), a government-to-government program allows Korean companies to hire foreign workers in sectors such as agriculture, fishing, construction, and manufacturing from labor-sending countries.

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