LAOAG CITY, Philippines – The provincial government of Ilocos Norte started allowing fully vaccinated travelers to enter the province without taking any COVID-19 test on Monday, February 14.
Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc said the decision marked what he hopes would be the “beginning of the end of the Omicron variant surge” in the province.
Manotoc issued the new order on February 12, covering fully vaccinated, asymptomatic residents, tourists, and authorized persons outside residence (APOR).
Unvaccinated minor residents and tourists can also enter the province without the need of COVID-19 testing if they are traveling with their fully vaccinated or exempted parents, the governor said.
Mandatory quarantine was also dropped for the fully vaccinated returning residents but they are advised to conduct self-monitoring for manifestation of any COVID-19 related symptoms.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals are not covered by the latest order. They still need to undergo testing unless they can show a valid medical clearance issued by government health officials from their place of origin.
COVID-19 curbs are slowly being relaxed after the provincial government observed a “marked decrease” in COVID-19 cases.
Last January, border protocols and internal movement were tightened as the province dealt with a surge of COVID-19 cases brought by the Omicron variant.
Latest data from the provincial government showed that the province has 1,597 active cases.
John Michael Mugas is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.