Biz leaders: Inoculate all Filipinos first before opening up borders

·2 min read

WHILE other nations are already eyeing to open their borders to vaccinated tourists, business leaders in Cebu said the region should focus on reviving its tourism industry first through domestic tourists.

This is because the country, specifically Central Visayas, has yet to fully vaccinate its population and the threat to Covid-19 is still present.

“Let’s concentrate first on our vaccine program. This is the only way to get out of this pandemic. Let’s start with our local travel bubble because we can now see the opening of our local destinations for us to go around during weekends. This is already a healthy sign,” Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam said.

Taguiam said tourism planners have been planning for the reopening for a long time, with resorts, hotels and other facilities gearing up for the eventual opening.

EU opens border

The European Union (EU) has agreed to allow entry to vaccinated travelers from countries with low infection rates. But to be allowed entry, travelers would need to have been inoculated with EU-approved vaccinations at least two weeks before their trip.

The European Council “now recommends that member states ease some restrictions, in particular for those vaccinated with an EU-authorized vaccine,” said European Commission spokesman Christian Wigand in a report.

Coronavirus vaccines authorized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the bloc’s drug regulator, include Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. The EMA hasn’t approved any vaccines from Russia or China yet but is looking at data for Russia’s Sputnik V jab.

Herd immunity by yearend

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Steven Yu said the country should focus on the singular goal of attaining herd immunity by the end of the year, and open up tourism and local industries by then.

“As long as our cases are down to almost nil, we can resume some normalcy similar to pre-Covid, and our economy will naturally bring back its vibrancy,” he said.

As far as tourism is concerned, once the country attains herd immunity, it should open up to all vaccinated travelers regardless of brand. This move will spur inbound tourists and will help bring back tourism revenues, Yu said.

Yu noted anything can still happen between now and the end of the year, saying he hoped that all World Health Organization-approved vaccine brands will be accepted by the EU or a booster shot can bridge the gap. (JOB)

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