7-day quarantine eyed for fully vaccinated returning OFWs

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Returning overseas Filipinos at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on April 9, 2020. (FILE/Department of Foreign Affairs/dfa.gov.ph)

The Philippines’ tourism department is set to meet with other local agencies on Wednesday to look into shortening the quarantine period of returning Filipinos who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

In a TV interview on Tuesday, Philippine tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said they proposed to the Inter-Agency Task Force last week to implement a “green lane” for fully vaccinated travelers.

“Right now we are allowing balikbayans to return to the Philippines. They are our third-largest market. But because they have to quarantine for 10 days, they are discouraged to come [home],” Puyat said.

The Philippines currently requires all international travelers to undergo quarantine for 10 days at a government facility, plus four more days at their destination.

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Puyat pointed out that Thailand’s hotel quarantine period for inoculated inbound travelers was earlier halved from 14 days to just a week, provided they test negative for Covid-19. She added that Hong Kong also shortened quarantine periods upon arrival depending on the Covid-19 risk of the traveler’s port of origin.

The tourism chief said details of the proposal are still up for discussion with the local health department and experts, including whether to limit the accepted brands of vaccines or not.

She added that they will also talk to the Philippines’ foreign affairs department and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on verifying vaccination records of these travelers.

This story has been updated.