IATF deliberates scrapping of quarantine for vaxxed investors

Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo Puyat

THE Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) will be studying a proposal to establish “express green lanes” for vaccinated investors.

In a Viber message to the BusinessMirror, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said she proposed this during their IATF meeting on Thursday, as some Cabinet members raised the issue of investors wanting to come to the Philippines, but having to contend with Manila’s current 14-day quarantine requirement.

“Perhaps for fully vaccinated investors with fixed itineraries, they no longer have to be quarantined. Anyway, it will be easy to track them down, or trace their contacts, in the event some Covid issues come up,” she explained. “Or they can meet with local businessmen who are vaccinated as well…there are many ways to go about this safely. Sayang kasi [It’s just a waste] since these are investors,” she said.

The proposal was endorsed by the Socioeconomic Planning Secretary  Karl Chua, also Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority, and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez Jr. and has been referred to the IATF’s technical working group for discussion and fine tuning.

Second thoughts about PHL

Earlier, Romulo Puyat also proposed a green lane for vaccinated tourists, where they will only be quarantined for seven days, from the current 14-day requirement, 10 of which will spent in an accredited quarantine hotel, and four days in home quarantine. (See, “DOT eyes shorter quarantine period for vaccinated tourists,” in the BusinessMirror, May 27, 2021.)

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III on Thursday also raised the issue of the 14-day quarantine requirement as a turn-off to business investors.

“It doesn’t make sense. It defeats the purpose of vaccinating so we can open the economy. Vaccinated investors won’t come because they have to quarantine, or even Filipinos who are vaccinated are having second thoughts [about coming to the Philippines],” he said in a news statement.

Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas showed foreign direct investments (FDI) plunged by 25 percent to $6.54 billion (P313.92 billion) in 2020, the lowest level recorded since 2015, owing to business uncertainties created by the pandemic. The BSP projects FDI inflows to reach $7.8 billion (P374.4 billion) in 2021.

Close eye on GCQ hotels, resorts

Meanwhile, the DOTwill be strictly monitoring staycation hotels and other accommodation establishments, following their recent reopening in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ).

“I’ve instructed all our regional directors to make sure all these accommodation establishments are implementing health and safety guidelines to the letter, as well as the mandated limits on occupancy,” said Romulo Puyat.

The IATF earlier approved DOT’s request for hotels and resorts in GCQ areas like Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal to accept leisure travelers up to 30 percent of their venue capacity.

In the case of resorts or rented homes in tourist destinations like Pansol, Laguna, Romulo Puyat clarified that only those which are accredited by the DOT are allowed to accept guests only up to 30 percent of the venue capacity, provided they come from the same household.

“These homes with swimming pools should first be accredited by the DOT, and only one household can use it. It cannot be the entire barangay,” she stressed.

In Metro Manila, which is also under GCQ, hotels are either staycation hotels or quarantine/isolation facilities used for the temporary quarantine of arriving overseas Filipinos and overseas Filipino workers waiting the results of their RT-PCR tests.

Staycation hotels are now allowed to operate up to 100 percent and no longer have to administer Covid-19 tests to guests. They are also allowed to accept guests of all ages.

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