President Ferdinand Marcos will issue an executive order to make indoor mask use voluntary in the Philippines and ease the rules for foreign travelers, a senior official said Tuesday.
While the use of mask will remain mandatory in public transportation and medical facilities, only unvaccinated individuals as well as those with underlying medical conditions and the elderly are “highly encouraged” to wear masks indoors, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said in a briefing.
Unvaccinated foreign travelers will also be allowed entry into the Southeast Asian nation by presenting a negative result of an antigen test taken 24 hours before departure or by testing upon arrival, Frasco said.
The move seeks to make the Philippines at par with its Southeast Asian neighbors, which have dropped restrictions for inoculated travelers, she said. The government wants “to convey an openness and readiness to the world to receive tourists and investments” to help the economy further recover, she also said.
The Philippines has logged new Covid-19 cases of about 12,000 in the week ending Oct. 23, with hospitals having 650 severe and critical admissions, according to the Department of Health.
According to travel-booking site Kayak.com, 191 countries worldwide currently are open for travel with no Covid-19 testing or quarantine required. Some 19 have some requirements in place, while 16 nations only allow entry to returning citizens or persons in special circumstances, according to the site.
By: Ditas B. Lopez