IATF: No more COVID-19 tests for travelers unless LGU requires it

The government’s coronavirus task force has approved the uniform travel protocols for local government units, which includes not requiring COVID-19 tests for travelers unless the host LGU asks for it, Malacañang announced on Saturday, February 27.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on state-run PTV that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) penned the uniform travel protocols for land, air, and sea, in close coordination with local officials.

The travel rules for LGUs were released ahead of Holy Week, when families traditionally head to their home provinces or go out of town.

Roque said that under the uniform travel protocols, “travelers shall no longer be required to undergo COVID-19 testing except if the local government unit (LGU) of destination will make testing as a requirement prior to travel” and that this would be limited to  real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests.

 Under the uniform travel rules, travelers would not go on quarantine “unless they exhibit symptoms upon arrival at the LGU of destination.”

Roque said minimum public health standards will continue to be strictly implemented.

"Clinical and exposure assessment shall be strictly implemented in all ports of entry and exit while health assessment of passengers, supervised by medical doctors, shall be mandatory upon entry in the port/terminal and exit at point of destination," he added.

Roque said that ports and terminals must have adequate quarantine or isolation facilities, and also a referral system that would allow symptomatic travelers to be transferred to the proper facilities.

He added that Metro Manila buses bound for the provinces are required to use the Integrated Terminal Exchange as the central hub for transportation.

"At the option of the LGUs, they may provide transportation for all travelers who are transiting from one LGU to another in cases of arrivals at air and seaports to their end-point destinations," Roque said.

Roque also said that the travel authority issued by Joint Task Force COVID Shield and health certificates are no longer required. 

Authorized persons outside of residence (APORs) from national government agencies and their attached agencies must provide their identification card, travel order, and travel itinerary; and must pass symptom-screening at ports of entry and exit, he added.

Roque said the Safe, Swift, and Smart Passage (S-PaSS) Travel Management System of the the Department of Science and Technology will be institutionalized as the "one-stop-shop application/ communication for travelers." 

"The StaySafe.ph System shall be utilized as the primary contact tracing system.  Other existing contact tracing applications, such as Traze App, must be integrated with the StaySafe.ph System," he said.

The uniform travel protocols for LGUs were approved on the same day that Malacañang announced the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to keep Metro Manila and 9 other areas – including popular summer destinations Baguio City and Batangas – under general community quarantine until March 31.

Also on Friday, the Philippines logged its highest number of COVID-19 cases in a single day in 4 months – 2,651 cases, bringing total infections in the country to 571, 327. – Rappler.com