Philippine govt allows non-essential trips and tourism abroad

The Hundred Islands National Park, Philippines. Photo: Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MANILA, Jul 7, 2020, PhilStar. The government’s coronavirus task force has lifted restrictions on non-essential travel abroad for Filipinos, the Palace announced Tuesday, months after the country closed its borders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Philippine Star reported.

At a press briefing on Tuesday noon, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that among those lifted restrictions include those “relative to outbound travel of Filipinos.”

Although non-essential travel abroad is now allowed, this will still be subject to restrictions like the requirement of “adequate travel health insurance to cover rebooking and accomodation expenses.”

Travelers must also show confirmed round-trip tickets and a execute a declaration that they know the risks they are taking.

This is also subject to the destination country’s entry and quarantine guidelines.

Roque initially said that tourism—an industry whose revenues remained severely slumped over the pandemic—is still prohibited but issued a clarification on Tuesday afternoon.

“We cannot afford a second wave…as much as possible, the economy should stay open. I still believe we are still winning the fight vs COVID-19,” Roque said in a mix of English and Filipino.

“We have to deal with COVID-19, we have to resume with the economy and at the same time, protect our people [but] the overwhelming majority of the cases involve mild or asymptomatic (cases). Our capacity to provide medical care is still very high,” he added.

Sunday’s tally by health authorities also saw the largest single-day rise in coronavirus cases with the Department of Health tacking on a troubling 2,434 new patients.

As of the latest DOH update on Monday, the total number of confirmed cases in the country stands at 46,333.

Stressing the need to open the economy, Roque said in his presentation that part of the government’s action plan included “concentrating efforts on expanded and targeted testing and contact tracing by gradually allowing travel, tourism, and non-disruption of work.”

The presidential spokesperson earlier claimed that mass testing meant testing everyone in the country, which he shrugged off as a “physical impossibility.”

Phase 2 of action plan OK’d

According to Roque, Phase 2 of the National Action Plan has already been approved by the government.

As per IATF Resolution No. 51, the phase constitutes:

  • “Promoting change in people’s mindset with strong focus on health and disease prevention.”
    “Strategically balancing health and economic objectives;
  • Institutionalizing the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate Strategy and the Zoning Containment Strategy;
  • Sustaining private and public partnership;
  • Enhance risk communication and community engagements particularly on the observance of health protocols;
  • Highlight contingency, business continuity and sustainability plans;
  • Capture the management of Returning Overseas Filipinos, LSIs and Local travellers.

Franco Luna with a report from Rosette Adel

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