After being closed for nearly two years, the Philippines is easing up the entry of fully vaccinated foreign nationals (FNs) from visa-free countries .
The much-anticipated Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution No. 160-A, B and D simplified border control takes effect on February 10 (Tuesday).
This means that citizens of 157 countries with visa-free entry to the Philippines will no longer be required to quarantine in government-designated centers upon arrival. However, these fully vaccinated foreign nationals (FNs) will still need to test negative for Covid-19 within 48 hours before flying to the Philippines and will not have to quarantine on arrival.
Visiting foreign nationals must be vaccinated against Covid-19, those who are unvaccinated shall not be allowed entry into the Philippines. Exemptions to the vaccine requirement are:
- Children below twelve (12) years of age;
- People medically unable to receive the vaccine, as certified by a competent public health authority from their country/port of origin; and
- Foreign diplomats and their qualified dependents/9(e) visa holders.
From Border Control to Transmission Prevention
The Philippines is currently classified as a “ Level 4 ” destination by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicating a “high” level of COVID-19 transmission in the nation.
The Philippines had planned to reopen in December 2021, but the IATF had to re-impose tighter restrictions over health concerns about the hyper-contagious Omicron variant.
“We’re done with border control,” Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told a news conference, adding that government focus has instead shifted to preventing community transmission of the Omicron variant. The Philippines has reported more than 3.5 million confirmed COVID-19 infections, with over 54 thousand deaths, the second-highest totals in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.
This easing of entry restrictions is expected to significantly contribute to job restoration, primarily in tourism-dependent communities, and particularly welcomed by businesses that have earlier shut down.
The Philippine government also removed quarantine requirements for returning Filipinos from February 1, but they must be vaccinated and tested negative for Covid-19.
Keeping Pace with its ASEAN Neighbors, but…
The Philippines is the latest of several Southeast Asian countries reopening to tourists to help their economies recover. Note that even as more and more countries in Southeast Asia have begun to ease travel restrictions, not every tourism destination may be fully open and operational. Some patience may be required as key tourism markets may continue implementing quarantine protocols for travelers. Likewise, travelers are urged to actively monitor possible changes in alert levels.
Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, however, assures travelers that the situation will still be closely monitored to ensure protocols are duly implemented, especially in tourism establishments. She adds that it is also a good thing that close to 100 percent of the country’s tourism workers (in Metro Manila) are already vaccinated, making the workforce ready to accept foreign tourists.
Tourists and foreign nationals interested in obtaining more information on their visa and entry concerns to the Philippines may [contact us here] , or call us at +63 (02) 8540-9623 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.