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Travelers to PH now required to take PCR test on sixth day of arrival, quarantine in hotel for seven days

By Tanya Lara Published Feb 01, 2021 10:31 pm Updated Feb 04, 2021 9:11 pm

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) released yesterday its latest travel advisory requiring travelers to the Philippines to a RT-PCR tests six days after arrival and to quarantine in a Bureau of Quarantine-accredited hotel for seven days.

This ends the 14-day required quarantine imposed on travelers since Dec. 30, 2020. The Philippines has yet to open the country to foreign tourists.

Effective Feb. 1, returning overseas Filipinos and foreign nationals residing in the Philippines will undergo an RT-PCR test at the hotel by a government-assigned COVID-19 private laboratory.

DFA’s 18-step travel advisory starts with travelers registering online for a unique QR code before their travel date, which will be presented upon arrival at NAIA Terminals 1, 2 and 3.

They must pre-book at any Bureau of Quarantine Hotel (BOQ)-accredited hotel. The DOH website—as of Jan. 28—lists 217 facilities suitable “only for mandatory quarantine” and 153 facilities suitable for “stringent quarantine AND mandatory quarantine.”

The website does not define the difference between “mandatory” and “stringent” quarantines. The accredited hotels are in Metro Manila and Tagaytay. They range from inns to hostels, motels, and five-star hotels such as Sofitel, Raffles, Discovery and Ascott. (Click here for the complete list.)

Upon arrival at the airport, travelers must submit their health declaration forms to the BOQ, undergo a briefing by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on quarantine protocols, fill out their Affidavit of Undertaking, validate their quarantine hotel at the DOT Desk, pay for their PCR test.

Only after all this can they proceed to immigration for clearance and retrieve their luggage. Then they must submit their Affidavit of Undertaking to the PCG before going out of the airport terminal.

While in quarantine, the DFA advisory says, the traveler must “plan, consider the prepare the following: airline or bus ticket, letter of acceptance from one’s own local government (LGU) unit, travel pass from any PNP office at point of departure.”

It does not say how one can get a PNP travel pass without breaking quarantine.

In a Philippine News Agency report in October 2020, Joint Task Force Covid Shield head, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said one must physically go to a police station but “there would be no requirements needed in getting a travel pass-through permit (TPP)… Just go to the police station and they would give you a TPP. No need for a medical certificate. No need for prior coordination with the place where you are going.”

Upon receipt of negative results of the PCR test, they must wait for the BOQ health certificate “indicating actual number of days on quarantine” before checking out of their hotel.

A 14-day home quarantine or what their LGU mandates is also imposed on travelers.