DESPITE the easing of domestic travel restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals, the Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, stressed that local government units (LGUs) may still ask fully vaccinated travelers to present a negative swab test result as entry requirement.
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III issued the clarification after some LGUs expressed concern over the relaxed domestic travel protocols that allow fully vaccinated individuals to present their vaccination cards in lieu of a swab test result.
Pending discussions of “operational concerns” over this new policy, Duque said LGUs may revert to a previous resolution approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, which allows LGUs to require travelers to undergo reverse transmission polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing for the virus.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the Secretary was referring to Resolution 101, which was approved on February 26, 2021 and remains in effect.
“While the IATF has said that vaccination cards may be used in lieu of the testing requirements, as we iron out operational concerns, IATF Resolution 101 remains in effect. This means that the LGU can still require testing as a requirement for entry,” Vergeire said.
“Status quo kasi may (because there’s an) appeal. ‘Yan naman ang process natin (That is how we do things),” she added.
Vergeire said the IATF, which is the policy-making body for the government’s Covid-19 response, will “iron out the operational concerns” over the use of vaccination cards during their meeting on Thursday, July 8.
“In any case, what remains is the flexibility of the LGUs to implement testing and quarantine protocols for interzonal travel,” she said.
Under Resolution 124-B, fully vaccinated travelers may simply present a vaccination card as “alternative to any testing requirement (before travel or upon arrival) which the local government unit of destination may require.”
The resolution, however, requires the traveler, including fully vaccinated senior citizens, to undergo health and exposure screening upon arrival in the LGU of destination.
An individual is considered fully vaccinated against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) at least two weeks after receiving the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or a single-dose vaccine.