Ilocos Norte

Ilocos Norte: No COVID-19 test requirement for fully vaccinated tourists starting December

John Michael Mugas
Ilocos Norte: No COVID-19 test requirement for fully vaccinated tourists starting December

WHITE SAND BEACH. Saud Beach in Pagudpud town is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ilocos Norte for its white sand beach and crystal clear waters.

Photo courtesy of Ilocos Norte provincial government

Fully vaccinated tourists would only need to show a valid COVID-19 vaccination card and undergo health screening upon arrival

Ilocos Norte will no longer require fully vaccinated tourists to present COVID-19 test results starting December 1.

The provincial tourism office announced the easing of rules on Thursday, November 18, saying that this is part of efforts to make visits easier for tourists during the peak holiday season.

Two days earlier, on November 16, the provincial government began on November 16 to relax border protocols for fully vaccinated returning residents.

Fully vaccinated tourists would only need to show a valid COVID-19 vaccination card and undergo health screening upon arrival, the tourism office said.

Only tourists who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, and coming from areas under Alert Level 4 would still be required to present negative COVID-19 test results

They should show a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to travel to the province, or a negative antigen test taken within 24 hours or upon arrival at the provincial borders, the tourism office said.

An antigen test at the border costs P300, according to the latest executive order of Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc.

Regardless of vaccination status, tourists should have prebooked accommodations with accredited establishments and individual local quick response-coded tourist passes, the provincial tourism office said.

In 2019, over 381,000 tourists visited the province in December alone, according to the data from the provincial government.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, November 17, Manotoc said that the provincial government had been eyeing to drop COVID-19 test requirements for tourists to boost the industry which was hit hardest by the pandemic.

But the loosening of border protocols should be made “prudently and gradually” depending on the decline of COVID-19 cases and the corresponding increase in vaccination numbers among residents, the governor said.

According to the latest data from the provincial government, Ilocos Norte has 68 active COVID-19 cases. Over 50% of the 431,801 target eligible population have been fully vaccinated against the disease.

At least 93.28% of the 2,500 eligible tourism workers in the province were already vaccinated against COVID-19, the data also showed.

The tourist arrivals in Ilocos Norte had started to pick up during the Undas break after its tourism industry reopened in September. – Rappler.com

John Michael Mugas is a Luzon based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.