The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Thursday disclosed the new testing and quarantine protocols for travelers arriving from countries which are not on the Philippines' red list amid the threat of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the new protocols would take effect on Friday, December 3.
Under the new guidelines, fully vaccinated travelers will be required to have a negative RT-PCR test conducted within 72 hours prior to departure from the country of origin.
The fully vaccinated travelers will undergo facility-based quarantine with an RT-PCR test taken on the fifth day, with the date of arrival being the first day.
Regardless of a negative result, they shall be required to undergo home quarantine up to the 14th day from the date of arrival.
Travelers who have yet to be vaccinated, have only been partially vaccinated, or whose vaccination status cannot be independently validated will also be required to take a negative RT-PCR test conducted within 72 hours prior to departure from the country of origin.
Upon arrival in the Philippines, they will undergo facility-based quarantine with an RT-PCR test done on the seventh day, with the date of arrival being the first day.
They shall be required to undergo home quarantine up to the 14th day from the date of arrival regardless of a negative result.
The Philippines updated its red list after the detection of the more infectious Omicron variant.
Countries on the red list are deemed COVID-19 high risk areas and travelers from these countries are temporarily barred from entering the Philippines.
Currently, the Philippines has 14 countries on the red list.
These include Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique.
The list and the travel ban is effective until December 15.
The Bureau of Quarantine has been monitoring passengers from red list countries who arrived in the country before the travel ban was announced.
It said those travelers had no symptoms of COVID-19.
Nograles said the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has been directed to ensure that airlines board only passengers who comply with the negative RT-PCR test-before-travel requirement.
He said minors would follow the testing and quarantine protocol of the parent or guardian traveling with them, regardless of their vaccination status and country of origin.
For those international passengers who have already arrived and are currently undergoing quarantine, they will continue with the testing and quarantine protocols in place at the time of their arrival.
Meanwhile, Filipinos from red list countries allowed entry via government-initiated or non-government repatriations, and Bayanihan Flights will only be allowed to deplane via the Ninoy Aquino International Airport or Clark International Airport.
Upon arrival, they will comply with the testing and quarantine protocols as prescribed under IATF Resolution No. 149-A (s.2021).
Nograles said the task force also amended the metrics for determining alert level classifications of provinces, highly urbanized cities, and independent component cities.
“Amendments include removing the One-Week Growth Rate as a metric for escalation from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 2; the escalation of areas under Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 2 if either case classification or total COVID-19 bed utilization increases to moderate risk or higher; and the escalation of areas under Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 3 if both case classification and total COVID-19 bed utilization are at moderate risk, or if case classification is at high to critical risk,” Nograles said.
The province of Apayao will be classified under Alert Level 2 from December 3 to 15.
Under Alert Level 2, establishments will be allowed to operate indoors at 50% capacity with additional 10% capacity if they have a safety seal. For outdoors, they will be allowed at 70%.
Metro Manila and several areas were earlier placed under Alert Level 2 until December 15.
The task force said that starting December 1, alert level assignments shall be determined at every 15th and 30th of the month.
President Rodrigo Duterte in November approved the nationwide implementation of the five-tier Alert Level System, which limits lockdowns only in areas with high COVID-19 community transmission. -NB, GMA News