IATF: LGUs have final say on RT-PCR testing requirement for all travelers

Is that your final answer?
by Sharleen Banzon | Jul 9, 2021
PHOTO: PITX

Looks like this matter is settled, at least for now: It will be up to local government units (LGUs) to decide whether or not travelers entering their jurisdiction will be required to present a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test.

That’s not to say, however, that your COVID-19 jabs are for naught as far as local travel is concerned (besides, health and survival first, right?). The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has confirmed that, in lieu of a negative RT-PCR test, LGUs also have the option of accepting vaccination cards (whether issued locally or overseas) or a Certificate of Quarantine issued by the Bureau of Quarantine for inbound travelers.

“This means that LGUs retain the discretion in requiring RT-PCR testing or accepting duly issued COVID-19 vaccination cards for allowed interzonal travel,” said Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in a statement today, July 9.

Initially, the IATF had issued Resolution No. 124-B, which dropped the pre-travel swab-test requirement for fully-vaccinated and asymptomatic local travelers. Under the resolution, an individual is considered fully-vaccinated two weeks after receiving the full dose of a single- or two-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

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On July 7, however, the Department of Health (DOH) hit pause on the implementation of the new policy, after local government leaders raised concerns about verifying the authenticity of vaccination cards, especially since there is no standard format used across the entire country.

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The DOH also maintained that prior to the release of Resolution No. 124-B, the IATF’s original travel guidelines (Resolution No. 101) required RT-PCR testing for local travel, and that “antigen testing is never recommended for border control purposes.”

So, if you’re making local travel plans, you must reach out to the local government of your destination to find out what its entry requirements are. The latest advisory issued by Baguio City, for instance, says that either vaccination cards or a negative COVID-19 result of a test taken within the past 72 hours—whether antigen or RT-PCR—will be accepted for local travelers. Boracay, meanwhile, has confirmed a negative RT-PCR test remains a requirement for inbound tourists.

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PHOTO: PITX
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