The city and province of Iloilo have tightened travel requirements for inbound travelers from outside of Western Visayas amid the looming rise in cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) due to the highly-contagious Omicron variant.
Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. on Wednesday, Jan. 5, issued his first Executive Order (EO) for this year extending the Alert Level 2 status of the province, which included a provision requiring a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test taken within 72 hours before travel for returning residents and non-residents regardless of vaccination status.
The same is required for the Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APORs, but this one is still subject to the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), according to the EO.
“The negative RT-PCR for those fully vaccinated shall be effective January 10, 2022,” the EO reads.
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas also issued EO 001 on Tuesday, Jan. 4, for the implementation of Alert Level 2 that provides guidelines on the travel of persons and management of cases, especially that one confirmed Omicron variant infection in the city.
Lawyer Fydah Sabando of the City Legal Office (CLO), in a press conference on Wednesday, said the mayor decided to impose the mandatory swab upon arrival of all travelers, including returning overseas Filipino workers (ROFWs), APORs, returning residents, and non-essential travelers and tourists starting this January 7.
“We can remember that previously we have eased out the restrictions on travel, especially that there is already automatic approval through the S-PaSS (Safe, Swift and Smart Passage) System,” she said.
Fully vaccinated travelers have to submit for the RT-PCR test at the Uswag Molecular Laboratory at the La Paz covered gymnasium upon arrival and undergo quarantine while waiting for their negative result, Sabando said.
Those partially vaccinated or without vaccines have to undergo quarantine and submit to the swab test on the third day from arrival.
Meanwhile, those coming from Negros island have only to present their vaccination card if they are fully vaccinated.
Those who are not vaccinated or are partially inoculated may opt to present a negative RT-PCR result taken 72 hours before travel or submit to a free swab test upon arrival.
“We would like to remind everyone that since our first line of defense is testing to arrest transmission, so the test is without cost. The mayor really mandates for the swab of all travelers arriving here in Iloilo City,” she said.Perla Lena/PNA