PAL calls for easing quarantine rules for immunized travelers

PAL President and COO Gilbert Santa Maria (right) with PAL owner Lucio Tan. Photo: PNA

Philippine Airlines (PAL) joins the call for a “green lane” approach to allow easier entry of fully-vaccinated travelers into the Philippines to help revive safe tourist travel and more convenient repatriation.

The flag carrier supports current efforts by the Philippine government to explore revisions in arrival protocols, such as adopting a minimal quarantine period for fully-vaccinated travelers.

PAL President and COO Gilbert Santa Maria said: “We look forward to easier entry for fully-vaccinated travelers as a way of jumpstarting the aviation, travel and tourism industries that support Filipino jobs and the economy. A good number of our passengers flying in from the U.S. have completed their full vaccine doses. We could welcome more travelers from the U.S. and other countries with favorable epidemiological situations, such as Singapore, Australia, Israel and Korea.”

“Safe and convenient travel with access to prime tourist sites and no quarantine requirements can help encourage more people to have themselves vaccinated,” he added. “To fuel domestic tourism recovery, we should also strive for more air connectivity and a standardized set of travel guidelines and health protocols.”  

Willie Walsh, Director-General of the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) said: “There is increasing scientific evidence that vaccination is not only protecting people but also dramatically reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. This is bringing us closer to a world where vaccination and testing enables the freedom to travel without quarantine.”

The Department of Tourism has proposed the green lane concept to remove quarantine requirements for immunized travelers, and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) is working with DOT, DOH and other government agencies to review possible changes in arrival protocols. Many travelers based overseas are already fully-vaccinated, meaning they have completed their required two doses of anti-COVID vaccines, and government authorities in various countries are relaxing travel restrictions for such low-risk or risk-free travelers.

PAL recognizes that medical experts must be part of the review process to protect the health and safety of the Filipino public. The airline pledges to collaborate with the health authorities, and ensures that all flights adhere to the strongest safety standards to protect against virus spread. PAL’s fleet is equipped with state-of-the-art cabin filtration and air flow systems that provide hospital-grade protection, in addition to rigorous cleaning and disinfecting protocols.  

For her part, Tourism Chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said, “We must keep pace with our neighbors and the rest of the world in slowly reopening our tourist destinations. We must be ready for the visitors when the whole world is ready to safely travel again.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (US CDC) now allows fully-vaccinated travelers to mix more freely in public, stating that: “Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread SARS-CoV-2 and can now travel at low risk to themselves.” Furthermore, per the CDC, “fully vaccinated travelers do not need to self-quarantine” upon arrival in the U.S. following international travel.  The CDC will update these recommendations as more people get vaccinated, as rates of COVID-19 change, and as additional scientific evidence become available.

IATA has applauded the growing number of countries, more than 20 countries so far, who have wholly or partially lifted restrictions for vaccinated travelers.

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