Sen. Win Gatchalian on June 7 urged authorities to consider the relaxation of requirements for COVID-19 testing and quarantine protocols on all fully vaccinated tourists – both foreign and local – to help spur the slow reopening of the country’s economy.

Gatchalian also said that  slowly easing travel restrictions is one way to address the issue of vaccine hesitancy in the country. 

If travel restrictions were eased off on fully vaccinated Filipinos returning from abroad, Gatchalian said he doesn’t see any reason why fully vaccinated foreign and local tourists should be excluded.

Besides, he noted that there’s more to gain if it will bring back jobs in the tourism sector.

The vice-chairperson of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee related that based on the new policy announced by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on June 4, Filipinos who were vaccinated in the Philippines and went abroad will now only need to undergo seven-day quarantine when they return home. 

An RT-PCR or swab test will only be done if the symptoms manifest during the quarantine period. 

The inbound traveler must carry a vaccination card which must be verified prior to departure and checked upon arrival in the Philippines. However, the IATF did not mention if this “green lane” policy is applicable to returning OFWs and travelers already vaccinated abroad.

Due to the progress of vaccinations, the European Union (EU) Commission recently laid down a proposal exempting vaccinated people from testing or quarantines when travelling from one EU country to another and likewise urged a gradual easing of travel measures as inoculations against the coronavirus disease accelerate.

Gatchalian cited the latest guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that while fully vaccinated international travelers bound for the US, including US citizens, are recommended to get COVID-19 test three to five days after travel, they do not need to self-quarantine following international travel.