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COVID Info / Philippines / Travel Tips

COVID-19 Updated Travel Information and Restrictions: Philippines

While places and even whole countries are closing their borders because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still some things that we travel lovers can do at home to experience the euphoric feeling of traveling. There are loads of live virtual tours online waiting for you to explore- just a click away!

Other tour agencies offer regular virtual tours that you can watch like a documentary online, but then there are also live stream virtual tours – the ones that MyProGuide is now doing! You can book a virtual tour in advance, via MyProGuide website, and discuss with MyProGuide’s local tour guide where you would like to visit. They will plan out the day and give you a real-life-live-stream tour! They will even send you the souvenirs that you can buy on the tour route- straight to your doorsteps for you!

Promotional Poster for MyProGuide’s Online Tours (Photo by MyProGuide)

For people who just can’t stay put in one place, there are still some travel options for you! But safety always comes first, so for those who are interested to visit the Philippines, here is MyProGuide’s ultimate safety guide and updated travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic:

As the Philippines is a level-4 area that carries a high risk level of COVID-19 transmission, all unnecessary travels to and from the country are banned.

  • Travelers should avoid all travel to the Philippines.
  • Travel may increase your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19.

However, if you must travel:

  • Before you travel, get tested with a viral test 1–3 days before your trip. Do not travel if you are waiting for test results, test positive, or are sick. Follow all entry requirements for your destination and provide any required or requested health information.
  • During travel, wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet away from people who are not traveling with you, wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer frequently, and watch your health for signs of illness.
  • Before traveling back to your country, get tested with a viral test 1–3 days before travel. Follow all destination and airline recommendations or requirements.
  • After traveling, once you get back to your home country, get tested 3–5 days after arrival AND stay home for 7 days after arrival.
  • If you did not get tested, it is safest to stay home for 14 days.
  • If you had contact with a person infected with COVID-19 or had suspected exposure to COVID-19 while traveling, please delay any future travel plans, isolate yourself, get tested, and monitor your health.

Tourist Spots Update

While going through customs and quarantine is hectic, here are updates on some of the well-known spots you might visit during your trip to Philippines, remember to double-check before heading over as some places are closed during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic:

Cebu

Tourists are still allowed to travel to Cebu. All passengers and personnel should wear face shields and face masks when accessing Mactan-Cebu International Airport Terminal premises and during the flight. When wearing a face shield, one must ensure that the face shield sufficiently covers the nose and mouth. Persons with incomplete documents shall not be allowed to board the aircraft. Confirmed Round Trip Plane Tickets must also be presented (except for Locally Stranded Individuals – LSI and Returning Overseas Filipinos – ROF). Fill-out Province of Cebu Public Health Passenger Locator Form. The Certification from the Provincial Government of Cebu shall be issued within twenty-four (24) hours from the submission of the complete applicable documents.

Bird’s eye view of Cebu City (Photo by Zany Jadraque on Unsplash)

Boracay Island

A negative RT-PCR result not earlier than seventy-two (72) hours prior to traveling to Boracay is mandatory. Travelers are strongly advised to observe strict quarantine measures immediately after undergoing the test until the date of travel to the island. To ensure the safety and the quality of service, all travelers are required to pre-book in DOT-accredited (Department of Tourism-accredited) hotels and resorts issued with a Certificate of Authority to Open. Airlines are advised that the Godofredo P. Ramos Airport in Caticlan, Municipality of Malay will be the only port of entry for tourists traveling by air. A central point shall be established to screen tourists traveling by land, air, or sea. Stringent health and safety guidelines, emergency response protocols, and a COVID-19 Laboratory are all in place as you enter Boracay.

Tourists in Boracay, Malay, Philippines (Photo by RJ Baculo on Unsplash)

Sagada

The Philippines isn’t just all about postcard-perfect beaches. It has cool highland destinations too! If you want to be close to nature and the Philippines’ mountain culture, venture north of Manila and visit Sagada. You can find this small town high in the mist-covered Cordillera (mountain range) of Northern Luzon. The protocol is based on Municipal Ordinance No. 17, series of 2020, that states: “entry of returning residents or authorized persons outside of residence (APOR), workers, OFWs (overseas Filipino workers), LSIs (locally stranded individuals), persons who are out on official travel, coming from a country, province, city and municipality with active positive COVID-19 cases must undergo the 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival in the municipality.” Currently, Mountain Province has a total of 23 cases – with 7 active cases and 16 recoveries. Only the towns Sadanga and Barlig remain COVID-free.

Sagada Rice Terraces, Sagada, Philippines (Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash)

Vigan

Vigan is an island which used to be detached from the mainland by three rivers – the great Abra River, the Mestizo River and the Govantes River. It is unique among the Philippine towns because it is the country’s most extensive and only surviving historic city that dates back to the 16th century Spanish colonial period. Vigan was an important coastal trading post in pre-colonial times. Long before the Spanish galleons, Chinese junks sailing from the South China Sea came to Isla de Bigan through the Mestizo River that surrounded the island. Vigan is open to residents and domestic tourists coming from Region 1 and Baguio City only. Only 50 tourists per day is allowed. Vigan opened its borders to domestic tourists coming from Luzon on November 15, 2020. Also, as of the moment, travelers below 21 years of age, above 60 years of age, and pregnant women are not allowed to enter Vigan.

Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, Philippines (Photo by Assy Gerez on Unsplash)

Traveling may increase your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops are all risky places where travelers can be exposed to the virus. These are also places where it can be hard to maintain social distancing. If you really need to travel, take steps before, during, and after your trip to keep yourself and others from getting COVID-19. Travelers should avoid all unnecessary travel. If you must travel, talk to your doctor ahead of time, especially if you are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Stay safe when you travel:

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends following these steps to protect yourself and others when you travel:

  • Maintain a distance of 6 feet (2 meters) between yourself and others as much as possible.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Limit contact with frequently touched surfaces, such as handrails, elevator buttons and kiosks. If you must touch these surfaces, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands afterward.
  • Wear a cloth face mask.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean your hands often. It’s especially important to do so after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • When washing your hands, wash them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub your hands together until they feel dry.

Traveling by plane:

Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses don’t spread easily on flights. However, crowded flights make social distancing difficult. Plus air travel involves spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people.

Photo by Jim Flores on Unsplash

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have issued guidance to help airlines prevent the spread of the coronavirus. As a result, most major airlines in the Philippines require that crews and passengers wear cloth face coverings. To see what specific airports and airlines are doing to protect passengers, check their websites.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has increased the cleaning and disinfecting of all equipment and surfaces at screening checkpoints. If you haven’t flown since the pandemic began, you’ll notice some changes:

  • TSA officers wearing masks and gloves, and practicing social distancing.
  • TSA officers changing gloves after each pat-down.
  • Plastic shields at the document checking podium, bag search and drop-off locations.

Also, be aware that the TSA has made a number of changes to the screening process:

  • Travelers may wear masks during screening. However, TSA employees may ask travelers to adjust their masks for identification purposes.
  • Instead of handing boarding passes to TSA officers, travelers should place passes (paper or electronic) directly on the scanner and then hold them up for inspection.
  • Each traveler may bring one container of hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces (about 350 milliliters) in a carry-on bag. These containers will need to be taken out for screening.
  • Food items should be transported in a plastic bag and placed in a bin for screening. Separating food from carry-on bags lessens the likelihood that screeners will need to open bags for inspection.
  • Personal items such as keys, wallets and phones should be placed in carry-on bags. This reduces the handling of these items during screening.
  • Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds directly before and after going through screening.

Ground transportation:

If you are traveling by bus or train, be aware that sitting or standing within 6 feet (2 meters) of others for a prolonged period of time can put you at higher risk of getting or spreading the coronavirus. Follow the precautions outlined above for protecting yourself during travel.

Even if you fly, you may need ground transportation once you arrive at your destination. You can investigate car rental options and their disinfection policies on the internet. If you plan to stay at a hotel, check into shuttle service availability.

If you’ll be using public transportation, maintain social distancing, wear a mask, and use hand sanitizer or wash your hands after reaching your destination. If you plan to use a ride-hailing service, don’t sit in the front seat near the driver.

City traffic at Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines (Photo by Eryka Raton on Unsplash)

Tips for packing when leaving:

When it’s time to pack for your trip, grab any medicine you may need on your trip and these essential “safe-travel” supplies:

  • Face masks
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol)
  • Disinfectant wipes (at least 70% alcohol) for surfaces
  • Thermometer

Anyone can get very ill from the virus that causes COVID-19, but older adults and people with certain medical conditions are at increased risk for contracting severe illnesses. Conditions that increase your risk include cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, serious heart problems, weakened immune system, obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, smoking, and type 2 diabetes.

Last but not the least, as a friendly reminder, remember to wash your hands frequently and wear your masks all the time! Don’t forget to maintain social distancing when out in public. We hope you stay safe and healthy as we all await for our planet to recover and regain its healthy atmosphere!