INDIVIDUALS fully vaccinated against Covid-19 may now undertake domestic travel without having to present the negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results currently required by some receiving local government units (LGU).
The new guidelines were approved Friday, but officials in Cebu say they will still have to meet with stakeholders this week to discuss the new rules before implementing them.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., on Sunday, July 4, 2021, said for interzonal travel allowed under IATF resolutions and Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the country, as amended, presentation of a Covid-19 domestic vaccination card issued by a legitimate vaccinating establishment, or certificate of quarantine completion showing the holder’s vaccination status as may be issued by the Bureau of Quarantine will be “sufficient alternatives to any testing requirement” (before travel or upon arrival) which the LGU of destination may require.
But travelers are still subject to the health and exposure screening implemented by the receiving LGU upon arrival.
He said this is in accordance with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ Resolution 124-B issued last July 2.
Interzonal travel refers to movement between provinces and cities under different community quarantine classifications.
Roque said the Department of Health (DOH) and other relevant agencies are directed to amend their issuances accordingly.
In response, the DOH in Central Visayas said it has scheduled a stakeholders’ meeting on the matter on Tuesday, July 6.
Roque said under the resolution, a person will be considered fully vaccinated for Covid-19 two weeks after having received the second dose in a two-dose series vaccine or two weeks after having received a single dose in the case of a single-dose vaccine brand.
The vaccines administered must be among those included in the emergency use authorization list or compassionate special permit issued by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration or those in the emergency use listing of the World Health Organization.
The new rules also apply to fully vaccinated senior citizens who, in addition to interzonal travel, also remain allowed intrazonal movement within areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ.
Intrazonal travel refers to the movement between provinces and cities under the same community quarantine classification, without transiting through an area placed under a different classification.
Senior citizens just have to present a Covid-19 domestic vaccination card or certificate of quarantine completion showing their vaccination status as may be issued by the Bureau of Quarantine, and follow the minimum public health standards.
Moreover, under IATF Resolution 124-B, fully vaccinated individuals who are close contacts of probable and confirmed Covid-19 cases may undergo a shortened seven-day quarantine period as long as they remain asymptomatic for the duration of the seven-day quarantine period with the first day being the date immediately after the last exposure.
If a RT-PCR test needs to be performed, “it may be done not earlier than the fifth day after the date of the last exposure,” reads a portion of the resolution.
For close contacts traced beyond the seventh day from last exposure who remain asymptomatic, no testing and quarantine will be required.
If the RT-PCR test yields a positive result, or the individual becomes symptomatic, he or she will follow the prescribed testing and isolation protocols.
Various agencies in Cebu and officials from the tri-cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu will still have to meet on July 6, to discuss the new guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals issued by the IATF for uniformity, said Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera.
The deputy chief implementer of the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) said the new guidelines were the same measures the EOC had endorsed to the mayor’s office last June 4.
Garganera said considering that this is a national announcement, in his own opinion, it may not need a new executive order.
However, he said he would have to wait for the Tuesday meeting for the measures to be implemented in Cebu.
In Mandaue City, EOC head August Lizer Malate said this is an effective program in line with the city government’s efforts to give incentives to fully vaccinated individuals.
“Relaxing the imposition of inter/intrazonal movement regulations to fully vaccinated individuals is an added premium that will convince more of the population to get vaccinated,” said Malate.
He added they also await the IATF guidelines and will make the necessary adoption as well as consideration of the police with the leaders of the entire Cebu island considering that there are still high-risk areas and Cebu must make policies as one island. (WBS, JJL, KFD)