Philippines to allow entry of unvaccinated travelers to boost tourism

Camille Elemia
Philippines to allow entry of unvaccinated travelers to boost tourism Filipinos wearing face masks walk along a busy market street in Navotas City, a suburb of Manila, Sept. 13, 2022.
[Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]

The Philippines is set to ease COVID-19 protocols, including allowing unvaccinated foreigners into the country, in an effort to boost tourism and investment and reverse a pandemic-fueled economic slowdown, the government said Tuesday.  

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco announced the plan after a cabinet meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Unvaccinated foreigners would be allowed into the country provided they presented documentation showing a negative result for an antigen test taken 24 hours before departure, she said.

“The overarching direction of the Marcos administration is to allow our country to convey an openness and readiness to the world to receive tourists and investments so that we would give our fellow Filipinos an opportunity to regain all the livelihood and losses that were incurred during the pandemic,” Frasco said during a press briefing at the Malacañang presidential palace in Manila.

The move, which comes as the country has detected cases of the more transmissible Omicron variant XBB, is meant to put the Philippines on “par with our ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] neighbors who have long liberalized their mask mandates,” she added.

Frasco said the government was “optimistic” that lifting restrictions would invigorate the tourism industry.

From February to September, the Department of Tourism recorded more than 1.6 million visitor arrivals, much lower than the 5.4 million visitor arrivals recorded in the same period in 2019 before the pandemic hit.

‘More layers of protection’

Frasco also said the president would soon issue an order making the wearing of masks indoors optional. Marcos allowed the voluntary use of masks outdoors over a month ago, in a move that was criticized by some doctors and medical experts.

“As a result of the meeting this morning, it was agreed that the president would be issuing an executive order ... to make indoor mask wearing also voluntary all over the Philippines with a few exceptions,” Frasco said.

“Mask wearing would also be highly encouraged for unvaccinated individuals, persons with comorbidities as well as senior citizens,” Frasco said. And masks would still be required in public transportation and medical facilities, she added.

For its part, the Department of Health (DOH) said it “has illustrated all potential scenarios” involving mask mandates, but it accepts the decision of the inter-agency task force on COVID-19 protocols.

The department however urged the public to take precautions against COVID-19, especially with the upcoming All Souls’ Day and Christmas, holidays that are widely marked in the country.

“[T]he DOH reminds the public that the more layers of protection we employ, the more protected we are against COVID-19. These include vaccination, masking, distancing, ventilation, and sanitation, as well as taking care of one's health,” the DOH said on Tuesday.

“With this freedom to choose, it is therefore important for us to assess our individual risk thoroughly before deciding if it is safe and wise to remove our masks, especially now that the Undas and Christmas seasons are approaching and we expect increased COVID-19 transmission brought about by greater mobility.”

The DOH reported 1,334 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, with 22,850 cases nationwide, the lowest since Sept. 1. More than 63,000 Filipinos have died due to COVID-19, and more than 3.9 million have recovered.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.


Oct 25, 2022 01:52 PM

so it it possible to enter philippines without any vaccination? without staying in quarantine hotel?