CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia is set to adjust the arrival protocols set for fully vaccinated individuals by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Garcia announced on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, that fully vaccinated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) will be required to stay only five days in facility-based quarantine as an incentive.
Aside from undergoing a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test upon arrival, the fully vaccinated OFW and ROF will also be swabbed again on the fifth day.
If the result comes out on the same day and it’s negative, the OFW or ROF is released also on the fifth day, two days ahead of the seven-day facility-based quarantine required by the IATF for verified fully vaccinated travelers arriving from low-risk, or Green List, countries and territories.
“Usually, the test results come out after 48 hours. That is, if you are not that efficient. Over here in Cebu, efficiency is like second nature to us. From a seamless procedure at the airport and then they’re brought to the hotels. Fully vaccinated persons are tested on the fifth day and then if they are tested early in the morning, the result can come out on the same day. So why wait for two more days? Does it make sense? Let us make the vaccination program an incentivized program,” Garcia said.
A memorandum will be issued to implement this incentive program, she added.
Before announcing this new policy, Garcia said she discussed the matter with officials of the Department of Tourism, Department of Health, Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (Hrrac), and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
She repeated her argument that OFWs and ROFs who come home often do so because of emergencies, such as illness or death in the family.
“Many of our OFWs come home for emergency purposes. Someone is dying, someone is very sick, someone has died and you want to attend the wake. It’s maddening. It’s frustrating, depressing and illogical to be made to wait two more days. I’m just saying we’re very efficient here,” Garcia added.