(File photo)

The Puerto Princesa City government has relaxed travel requirements for returning residents by no longer requiring mandatory RT-PCR testing and facility quarantine for fully-vaccinated local travelers.

However, returning residents must still coordinate their travel plans with the city Incident Management Team (IMT) prior to their arrival, and must also present proof of their vaccination.

In a live briefing on Saturday, city Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) spokesperson Atty. Norman Yap said that starting November 16, these new travel rules will take effect. He added that in lieu of the mandatory facility quarantine at the expense of the returning resident, they can now be home-quarantined for seven days.

However, the traveler’s household members, if any, must also be fully-vaccinated, or partially vaccinated if there are minors at home. The traveler must also stay in their own room and will be monitored by the Incident Management Team (IMT) at all times. The last step of their quarantine will end once they take an antigen test either on the fifth or seventh day after their arrival.

“Kaya 5th or 7th day, kasi nakadepende pa rin ‘yan sa clinical status niya. I-aassess pa rin siya ng IMT,” Yap said during the briefing.

City IMT chief Dr. Dean Palanca added during the same briefing that all returning residents must contact the IMT first before finalizing their flight schedules because their homes will be inspected first before they arrive.

“Kaya kailangan ng coordination kasi iche-check muna kung fully-vaccinated na nga ang mga kasama sa household. Kasi kung hindi pala sila fully-vaccinated, o pag sa minors, naka-first dose, eh sa facility pa rin sila, at their own expense. O di kaya, sa Magarwak Facility, eh limited lang ang slots doon,” Palanca said. He added that barangay officials will be helping the IMT inspect the travelers’ homes.

Modified liquor ban and curfew hours

Yap added that the city government has also relaxed the current liquor ban, now allowing the public consumption of liquor in dining establishments every day. The previous liquor ban only allowed public consumption on Fridays and Saturdays. This only applies to customers who are fully vaccinated, and for establishments whose staff are fully vaccinated.

Establishments offering alcoholic drinks must also secure a Safety Seal Certification, utilize the StaySafe.ph app, and observe one meter social distancing at all times.

Curfew hours have also been adjusted to 12 midnight to 4 a.m. The previous curfew hours were 11p.m. to 5a.m.

Entertainment venues such as bars, clubs, and karaoke venues are still not allowed to operate.

Mandatory vaccines for employees

Yap added during the briefing that Puerto Princesa is very likely to adapt the national government’s recent pronouncement that will mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all public and private employees. Unvaccinated employees will be required to undergo regular testing. He stated that while city mayor Lucilo Bayron is very keen on the mandate, they are still waiting for the finalized guidelines.

“Sa totoo lang, naisip na ‘yan ni Mayor [Lucilo Bayron] na gawin sa mga city government employees. Kung hindi magpapabakuna, magpa-test ka na lang [lagi]. Pero, na-park ang idea na ‘yon because we wanted to be compassionate,” Yap said.

He added that Puerto Princesa’s vaccine supplies are sufficient enough to vaccinate the entire eligible population, which is one of the requirements to the national government’s pronouncement.

“Isa sa mga nakalagay na requirements sa pronouncement ay dapat sa mga areas na sufficient ang vaccine supply. At tayo, dito sa Puerto Princesa, masasabi nating sapat ang supplies natin. Hindi na problema ang brand, kasi may Pfizer na tayo, may freezer pa tayo para sa storage. At hindi na rin nagkukulang sa vaccinators. Ang kulang na lang talaga, ‘yong mga magpapabakuna,” he said.

“We are still monitoring sa [Metro] Manila kung ano ang magiging outcomer. I don’t want to preempt the mayor. [Pero] right now, that national directive applies to us, kasi pasok na pasok tayo doon,” he added.