Ilocos Norte has eased border protocols for fully vaccinated returning residents, Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc said on Tuesday, November 16.
Starting Wednesday, November 17, returning residents who have been fully vaccinated will no longer need to take a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction or antigen test, except if they come from abroad or areas under Alert Level 4 or 5, the governor said.
The COVID-19 task force (IATF) on November 13 placed Ilocos Norte under Alert Level 2, the second most lenient classification in the country.
Instead of presenting COVID-19 testing results, returning residents will only be asked to present their vaccination cards and undergo a health screening at the provincial borders, according to Manotoc.
“The reason we waited until now is because our vaccination rate today is only 53% of the target 70% of the population,” he said.
Ilocos Norte also got rid of its face shield requirement on Tuesday, following the IATF’s decision to make the wearing of face shields “voluntary” in areas under Alert Level 1 to 3.
Ilocos Sur stricter
In nearby Ilocos Sur, however, the province was not letting its guard down after it eased to Alert Level 2 on Saturday.
The new executive order (EO) issued by Governor Ryan Luis Singson does not scrap COVID-19 testing.
Returning residents, including overseas Filipino workers, and authorized persons outside residence still need to comply with the minimum requirement of presenting a negative antigen test result before being allowed to enter Ilocos Sur.
However, the EO said fully vaccinated returning residents are no longer required to undergo mandatory quarantine. The unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals still need to complete a 14-day quarantine.
Earlier, Singson asked for understanding as the provincial government weighed whether to follow the examples of many local government units that have removed testing requirements for fully vaccinated returning residents. – Rappler.com
John Michael Mugas is a Luzon-based fellow and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.