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Confused about COVID testing for travel? So are we! Here’s a list of LGUs’ new requirements

By Tanya Lara Published Mar 03, 2021 5:49 am Updated Mar 12, 2021 6:08 am

When the IATF released Resolution 101 on Feb. 26, lifting the mandatory COVID testing for domestic travel, many heaved a sigh of relief for not having to go through the hassle and expense. More travelers, however, were alarmed and deemed it necessary.

It’s not like COVID cases in the country are going down. In fact, on March 1 and 2, the country recorded 2,000-plus new cases each day.

The resolution is confusing because while it said it was lifting mandatory testing and quarantine for domestic travel, it also said—in the same section—“except if the LGU of destination will require testing prior to travel, and such shall be limited to RT-PCR.”

Not all LGUs are lifting the PCR requirement or updating their websites either—to the frustration of travelers who want to start planning their summer.

Here are some LGUs that have either preserved the status quo or issued new guidelines as of March 12.

Iloilo City: PCR test, registration required

Iloilo City under EO-18-B issued March 11 still requires tourists to have a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to travel and to secure a notice of coordination and acceptance from the Iloilo City Emergency Operations Center (IC-EOC) prior to their intended date of travel. The new EO amends 18-A and removes the 14-day quarantine option for those who arrive without a swab test. Everyone must do it.  

La Union: PCR test, registration required for travelers from GCQ, MECQ, ECQ areas 

The province of La Union issued Executive Order No. 3 on March 8 stating that only travelers coming from areas classified under GCQ, MECQ and ECQ until March 31 need to present a negative PCR test ad register with the province’s NAPANAM Contact Tracing web app at https://npnm.launion.gov.ph/#/regqrpass. These are Metro Manila, Apayao, Baguio City, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Batangas, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur.

Those coming from Modified GCQ (MGCQ) areas do not need a travel pass or medical certificate.

Dumaguete: PCR test required, registration is not

On March 4, the  province of Negros Oriental released Executive Order No. 5, which leaves the PCR testing requirement to individual municipalities.

Dumaguete released its own EO on the same day. Travelers still need to get a PCR test 72 hours prior to travel. Those who fail to secure the test will be swabbed upon arrival and placed in a holding facility while waiting for their results. Travel documents, health certificates are no longer required.

Legazpi: PCR test, registration not required

Want to see Mayon Volcano again or eat Bicol express and laing in the region famous for spicy food? Now you can do these spontaneously as Legazpi has lifted both its PCR test and travel pass requirements. The mayor, in a Facebook post March 1, said the city is following IATF’s more relaxed guidelines.

 Bacolod: PCR test and registration required

Through EO No. 1, Bacolod still requires a negative PCR test 72 hours before date of travel. A travel itinerary for the first 10 days (or shorter) should be submitted online, along with hotel bookings and flight details. Travelers must register for BaCTrac contact tracing ID. All documents should be emailed to [email protected] for the issuance of notice of coordination or acceptance letter.

Baguio: PCR test not required, registration is

Victory Liner, which makes four daily trips from Cubao to Baguio, posted on Facebook details of Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong's Executive Order No. 21, which lifts the COVID test requirement.

Travelers, however, must register with the city's registration portals at https://visita.baguio.gov.ph/ for tourists, and https://hdf.baguio.gov.ph/ for returning Baguio residents and other traveler classifications.

Siargao: PCR test and registration required

Take note that while most destinations allow passengers to take the PCR test three days or 72 hours before their flight, Siargao’s window is smaller: it’s only 48 hours or two days.

There is also a minimum of five days’ stay in a hotel or resort.

According to Philippine Airlines’ website, these and registration at https://covid19.ssct.edu.ph/healthform for the e-health pass are required.

Exempted from the COVID test are children 14 years old and below provided they are accompanied by their parent/s or guardian/s.

Also required is a travel certification issued by the mayor of the city/municipality of destination (within the Province of Surigao del Norte). It doesn’t say where to get the mayor’s permit.

Bohol: PCR test and registration required

Bohol’s Facebook page only says in a March 1 post that a negative PCR test is required. Philippine Airlines’ website has more details (for travel March 1 to 31): PCR test within 72 hours of flight; flight and hotel bookings; and registration for the QR code on www.tourism.bohol.gov.ph. “It is strictly mandated that there shall be no walk-in tourists.” 

Boracay: PCR test and registration required

The local government of Malay said on its Facebook page that there are no changes on the requirements for tourists. Travelers still need to have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their flight and confirmed booking with DOT-accredited hotels.

They also need to register at www.touristboracay.com to get a QR code to present before boarding their flight in Manila, when they arrive at Boracay airport, and when they check in at their hotel.

El Nido: PCR test and registration required

EL Nido released its new guidelines effective Feb. 24 or three days before IATF’s resolution, and it looks like it’s not changing them yet.

For tourists from Palawan, registration, hotel booking and travel itinerary is required; COVID test is not.

For tourists from Manila or outside Palawan, a negative PCR test within 72 hours of flight, bookings (flight and hotel) and itinerary are required.

For both, register at www.elnidotourism.ph.

Coron: PCR test and registration required

These requirements apply to Coron, Busuanga and Linapacan islands: Negative PCR test within 72 hours before flight, health declaration and QR code registration at www.corontourism.ph, and flight, hotel and tour bookings.

This is a developing story. We will be updating the list as LGUs issue guidelines following IATF Resolution 101.