The Philippines plans to reopen its borders in February

Jan 29, 2022

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The Philippines is reopening its borders to tourists on Feb. 10 after being closed for nearly two years due to COVID-19. Visitors will no longer need to go through a mandatory quarantine if vaccinated. The Philippine government is also removing quarantine requirements for vaccinated Filipinos returning to the country starting Feb. 1, and anyone under quarantine at that time will be released from it.

The original plans to open the country to visitors in December were put on hold when the omicron variant began to surge. The government is attempting to boost its tourism sector, which has been decimated by the pandemic.

“[This] will contribute significantly to job restoration, primarily in tourism-dependent communities, and in the reopening of businesses that have earlier shut down,” Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.

COVID-19 rules for the Philippines

Travelers from over 150 countries that don’t need a visa to enter this archipelago nation of more than 7,000 islands will be allowed in, provided they are vaccinated and test negative for COVID-19. They will need a negative PT-PCR test within 48 hours before they board their plane.

Proof of vaccination required for entry can be a World Health Organization certificate of vaccination, the Philippines’ digital vaccination passport VaxCertPH or a vaccine certificate from a foreign government that has accepted VaxCertPH under a reciprocal agreement. Foreign travelers also need to have a return ticket and a passport that is valid for at least six months from the time of their arrival.

Countries that have visa-free entry to the Philippines include the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Italy and Japan. Travelers to the island nation will have to self-monitor for 10 days and report any symptoms to the local government.

Filipinos and foreigners who are not vaccinated or are partially vaccinated and those whose status cannot be verified need to take a COVID-19 test within 48 hours of departure. They also need to quarantine at a facility for five days and then at home for another nine days until they have been in the country for 14 days. Children under the age of 12 who can’t be vaccinated follow the accompanying adult’s quarantine.

Current COVID-19 situation

The Philippines is currently at Level 3: High Level of COVID-19. There is currently a mask mandate in public places and face shields are mandatory in medical and quarantine facilities. Since the pandemic started, the Philippines closed its borders to tourists and only people with valid Philippine visas were allowed to enter. Plans to create “travel bubbles” were considered previously, but those did not pan out.

Puyat said the situation will be closely monitored to ensure protocols are implemented in tourism establishments. “We are confident that we will be able to keep pace with our ASEAN neighbors who have already made similar strides to reopen to foreign tourists,” she said.

The Philippines is the latest in a string of Southeast Asian countries that are reopening to tourists to help their economies recover. Tourist arrivals in the Philippines from top markets Japan, South Korea and China dropped 83% to 1.4 million last year.

Featured photo by John Seaton Callahan/Getty Images.

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