THE Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) welcomed Friday, January 28, the Inter-Agency Task Force’s (IATF) decision to drop the mandatory facility-based quarantine policy for arriving travelers, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

In a virtual press briefing, Owwa Deputy Administrator Arnel Ignacio said they welcome the policy as it will reduce their expenses in providing hotel quarantine assistance to returning OFWs.

"Its immediate effect is on our expenses. We will finally be able to get a reprieve since the expenses we are processing are really overwhelming," said Ignacio.

He said he believes that many OFWs will qualify under the said policy as many are already fully vaccinated by their host countries.

"Currently, especially OFWs from the Middle East, they are generally fully vaccinated already," noted Ignacio.

The labor official, though, expressed hopes that the eased protocols will not result in higher number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases.

"We can only hope that it will not result in the return of a bigger surge in cases," said Ignacio.

Starting February 1, 2022, the Philippines will no longer require facility-based quarantine to fully vaccinated international travelers, including OFWs.

This, according to the IATF, is as long as they are tested negative for Covid-19 within 48 hours prior to departure, and commit to self-monitor for any sign or symptom for seven days.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Owwa has been shouldering the food, transportation, and quarantine expenses of all returning OFWs. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)