Exemption of fully vaccinated OFWs from quarantine pushed
MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker is proposing that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and inbound international Filipino travelers who are already fully vaccinated against COVID-19 be exempted from the mandatory quarantine upon arrival in the country.
Ang Probinsyano Partylist Rep. Ronnie One on Tuesday said that a properly authenticated proof of vaccination should suffice to ease quarantine protocols for returning OFWs and other Filipinos arriving in the country “so that they can spend more time with their families and truly enjoy their stay in the country.”
Ong, however, clarified that the arriving fully vaccinated Filipinos can still be required to undergo RT-PCR swab test upon arrival and must fully inform authorities of their travel destination.
“People who have been vaccinated should no longer pose any public health hazard to the general population and should be given some leeway on existing quarantine protocols for inbound OFWs and returning Filipino travelers,” Ong said in a statement.
The Department of Health (DOH), however, earlier said that there was no sufficient evidence just yet that people inoculated with existing vaccines can no longer infect others.
The DOH made the remark as it rejected the proposed “vaccine passes” that would allow vaccinated persons unlimited access to business establishments.
“We also have not given any assurances that vaccines can prevent mild to moderate infections,” Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire earlier said, adding that current studies only say that vaccines can reduce the risk for severe COVID-19 infections and hospitalization.
Furthermore, Ong recommended the relaxation on cross-border travel for people who have already completed their anti-COVID vaccines, saying that the government should start jumpstarting domestic tourism.
“Those who have already been vaccinated should be allowed to have unrestricted access to our beautiful local destinations,” Ong said.
“Aside from providing the momentum to boost our tourism sector, encouraging domestic travel for those who have been vaccinated should encourage more people to take their COVID jabs regardless of the brand. As it is, a lot of people are hesitant to get their jab because they don’t trust the brand,” he added.
Ong likewise proposed that business establishments such as malls, restaurants, hotels, resorts and other similar places should start accommodating senior citizens who have already been vaccinated.
The government should also start allowing dining in at restaurants and using 100 percent capacity for customers and guests who have been vaccinated, said Ong.
“While we understand that the health of our people must be paramount, we also need to help the business sector which has been bleeding for almost two years now,” Ong said.
“We also have to start reinvigorating our domestic tourism because many of our small and poor municipalities are dependent on tourism. We should encourage our vaccinated population to be at forefront of our national effort to rev up our economy,” he added.
The national government, however, has allowed fully vaccinated senior citizens in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ (MGCQ) to go outside their residences.
They should, however, present a duly issued COVID-19 vaccination card, and follow minimum public health standards, such as wearing face masks, face shields, and social distancing.
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