Philippines Sets Date for Tourism Reopening

Quarantine restrictions will be scrapped for fully vaccinated foreign visitors from February 10.

Filipino paraw sailboats in the waters off Boracay at sunset. (Photo: Bambi Corro/Unsplash)

International travelers craving a beach holiday in Boracay or Palawan do not have to wait much longer to make their wish a reality. On February 10, the Philippines will be reopening its borders to citizens of 157 countries and territories that enjoyed visa-free access prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. The list includes top markets within the Asia-Pacific region such as Australia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, while nationals of Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States will also be eligible.

To bypass quarantine, visitors will need to show proof of being fully vaccinated before boarding their flight, and have a negative result from a PCR test within 48 hours of departure. In lieu of mandatory isolation, overseas arrivals will be asked to self-monitor for any coronavirus symptoms during the first seven days of their stay. Travelers below the age of 18 will be exempt from vaccination requirements.

The Philippines’ Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on Friday that the national Covid-19 task force had accepted a proposal to lift the two-year-long ban on foreign visitors to revive the battered tourism industry. In a statement, she hailed it as “a welcome development that will contribute significantly to job restoration, primarily in tourism-dependent communities, and in the reopening of businesses that have earlier shut down during the pandemic.”

The Southeast Asian nation of more than 7,000 islands had previously flagged a partial reopening to selected low- and medium-risk countries on December 1, but cancelled the plan at the eleventh hour due to the emergence of the Omicron variant. The highly contagious new strain has been responsible for a dramatic surge of cases across the Philippines over the past month; the daily number of new infections rose to a record high of 39,004 on January 15. But a steady decline since then has prompted authorities to roll back movement restrictions in Metro Manila.

Romulo-Puyat also said quarantine requirements would be removed for fully vaccinated returning Filipinos from February 1. Separately, the national coronavirus task force announced that starting on the same date, countries will no longer be classified as green, yellow, or red according to their levels of Covid-19 transmission.

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