DOT: Requiring RT-PCR tests for entry of tourists, up to LGUs

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Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Wednesday that provinces and local government units are the ones that will decide whether or not they will require tourists to undergo RT-PCR COVID-19 tests before entry.

In an attempt to boost tourism and economic activities, the country’s coronavirus task force recently eased restrictions by doing away with the mandatory RT-PCR tests for domestic travel.

Nevertheless, it is up to the LGU to require tests as they see fit, Romulo-Puyat clarified during the distribution of cash assistance to affected tourism workers in Rizal province.

“The protocols are really up to the local government unit. It is the decision of the LGU kung maglalagay sila ng test before travel whether its saliva or swab,” said Romulo-Puyat.

“Yung mga ibang LGU ayaw pa rin magbukas kahit MGCQ [modified general community quarantine] kasi feeling nila hindi pa sila ready. Now on the other hand, there are other LGUs na feeling nila ready sila and there is no need for test before travel,” she added. 

When questioned on the propriety of removing the RT-PCR test requirement amidst rising cases and the new COVID-19 variants, the tourism chief said “halos lahat, they require test before travel.”

The otherwise vibrant tourism sector in the Philippines was dampened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Losses in terms of potential revenue from international tourists in 2020 were estimated to reach P400 billion, Romulo-Puyat previously said.

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