Filipinos who have received vaccination shots against COVID-19 would be very familiar with the standard-issue vaccination cards. They list the date/s when one got his shot/s, the venue/s, the vaccine brand and other pertinent information. As the only vaccines cleared for emergency use in the Philippines require two doses, a vaccine card with two records marks its owner as fully vaccinated against COVID. The cards also have a QR code similar to those on contact tracing IDs. Establishments and businesses have offered special benefits for fully-vaccinated customers, but this latest update from the tourism sector is the biggest boon yet.
According to The Manila Bulletin, a number of local government units across the country with prominent tourist destinations have announced their plans to drop mandatory swab testing for fully vaccinated tourists. This was revealed by the Department of Tourism (DOT), specifying that 14 Philippine LGUs with tourism-spot jurisdictions have agreed to drop this once-bothersome requirement. The generous gesture was praised by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, as it falls in line with the DOT’s continuing drive to get more people to travel and do local tourism to help bolster the industry and national economy, given that the Philippines is at latest now classified low-risk for COVID.
The following 14 city/provincial LGUs have dropped mandatory RT-PCR antigen testing for COVID with incoming travelers to their respective tourist spots provided they can prove fully-vaccinated status, since October 24:
- Catbalogan City
- Cebu Province
- Clark Freeport Zone (barring travellers originating from ECQ areas)
- Iloilo City
- Lapu-Lapu City
- Maasin City
- Misamis Oriental
- Negros Occidental
- Southern Leyte
- Subic Bay Freeport Zone
- Tacloban City
- Tarlac (including travelers from ECQ/MECQ areas
In a general sense, most of the above LGUs would only need a completed vaccination card as proof of complete vaccination for incoming tourists, though travelers are still advised to contact their destination LGU to be informed on any required document updates. For Bohol, Iloilo City and Negros Occidental however, their LGUs require proof in the form of vaccination certificates, available through the VaxCertPH page of the Department of Health website.
Some top destinations like Boracay however, will continue to require RT-PCR for incoming tourists regardless of vaccination status, unless they come only from the provinces of Panay Island and Guimaras. The Aklan provincial LGU however is considering lifting the requirement as well by the end of October, if all adult residents and tourism workers on Boracay are finally, fully vaccinated. The DOT is targeting all Philippine tourism workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID by the end of the year.
Image courtesy of ZEN Rooms