For the first time since the lockdowns last year forced Palawan to restrict incoming travel, both the provincial and city governments announced on Tuesday (March 2) the lifting of mandatory quarantine requirements for incoming travelers, a COVID-19 health protocol that had been in place throughout the entire pandemic period.

The travel policy shift came in the wake of the decision of the national Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to issue a national guidelines (IATF Resolution No. 101) doing away with the 14-day quarantine period required for persons traveling from one place to another, and instead downgrade the basic requirements to getting a negative swab test before departure.

The Puerto Princesa City and Palawan provincial Inter-Agency Task Forces (IATFs) both released similar travel guidelines, both removing mandatory quarantine upon arrival for all forms of travelers. However, both will still require negative swab or saliva RT-PCR tests.

The city now requires negative test results valid 48 hours upon arrival, while the province requires a 72-hour validity.

Mandatory quarantine will no longer be required, but inbound travelers are still required to secure a negative RT-PCR test with a 72-hour validity. Saliva RT-PCR tests are also now accepted by both the city and province.

City administrator Atty. Arnel Pedrosa added in a phone interview that the city will also require returning locals to take antigen tests on the third and seventh day after their arrival. He explained that this is a countermeasure to deter a possible surge of COVID-19 due to relaxed measures.

“Ang ginawa ng city to address that vacuum, kailangan silang i-test [after ng] third day and seventh day ng kanilang arrival. Upon arrival, basta wala silang symptoms, hindi sila ika-quarantine,” he said.

City IATF Resolution No. 26 also published on March 2 stated that all inbound travelers must be tested in Department of Health (DOH)-accredited laboratories and that their laboratories must e-mail the results directly to the city Incident Management Team (IMT) to avoid fraud. The resolution also states that all travelers must use the System, a contact tracing app developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)

Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) chief Jeremias Alili also confirmed in a phone interview with Palawan News that the provincial IATF has finalized its guidelines and is waiting for Palawan governor Jose Ch. Alvarez’s signature.

Authorized persons outside residence (APORs) from the public or private sector will no longer be quarantined, but agents from the national government still need to secure travel authority, itinerary, and a company ID from their issuing office.

Other towns with entry points to Palawan – namely, San Vicente, El Nido, Busuanga – have yet to announce changes in their inbound travel requirements. Coron, however, announced Monday (march 1) evening that they will be accepting negative saliva RT-PCR test results for tourists in lieu of swab test results.