IATF OKs easing outbound travel limits for Pinoys
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, vice chairman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), said the government is fine-tuning details to ensure that those who would be allowed to leave are not infected with the coronavirus.
“There are certain details that we have to thresh out. Everything has to be coordinated – from the testing to the airports, to (the measures to be implemented by) the Bureau of Immigration, the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) and the airlines,” Nograles said in a live online session last Saturday.
“But in principle, we in the IATF have agreed. It’s OK. We just have to finalize details. We do not want to do it unprepared or there would be problems,” he added.
The Philippine government is implementing restrictions on people traveling from countries with active COVID-19 cases to contain the virus, which has infected more than 37 million people worldwide and has claimed more than one million lives.
Exempted from the travel ban are Filipino citizens and their foreign spouses and children, and holders of government-issued diplomatic visas and permanent resident visas.
Some Filipinos who have foreigner partners are urging the government to ease the restrictions, noting that the travel ban has delayed the weddings of some couples.
The IATF has formed a technical working group to study the travel ban.
Nograles said among the details to be finalized are the type of testing to be administered on outbound travelers and the certifications that have to be secured to allow people to leave.
He added that the IATF also has to coordinate with accepting countries, airline companies and various agencies to ensure that the relaxed travel protocols are implemented smoothly.
“In principle, we have agreed on a lot of things… and we are just fine-tuning details. Once it’s done, we will immediately issue a resolution,” Nograles said.
“We are asking for a little patience. We can thresh this out. Let’s help each other. We understand your plight, but let us help each other,” he added.
The IATF is looking into a new testing methodology that would make the processing of the requirements of outbound travelers easier, according to Nograles. He said the government also has to come up with protocols to prevent the issuance of fake testing certifications.
The Philippines already has more than 336,000 COVID-19 cases, the highest in Southeast Asia.
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