(File photo)

The government has removed the requirement for air carriers providing domestic flights to reserve a portion of the aircraft cabin as an isolation space for passengers or crew who display symptoms of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Malacañang announced on Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases approved the removal of such requirement upon the recommendation of the Department of Transportation and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), with the concurrence of the Department of Health.

“The IATF decision is based on the grounds that guidelines were issued based on available information at the time, and that more information is now available on how Covid-19 is transmitted in closed settings,” Roque said. “Also, there are now more improved health protocols from boarding to landing to use of High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters.”

He noted that domestic flights are of short duration only, generally not exceeding 1.5 hours.

Citing the CAAP, Roque said the recent decision would not contravene the World Health Organization and International Civil Aviation Organization guidelines and protocols.

The IATF has also ordered local government units (LGUs) to relax health entry protocols imposed upon airline crew layovers or positioning due to emergency situations, such as typhoons, volcanic activities, diversions, and emergency landings, other similar unforeseen and time-sensitive evacuations.

Airline crew will be exempted from the test-upon-arrival requirement and be allowed to stay temporarily in accommodation establishments under a “bubble” concept, as supervised by the LGUs. (PNA)