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Capitol starts easing travel rule for fully vaccinated persons, but city still requires negative test results

The provincial government will continue to allow fully vaccinated individuals entry into Negros Occidental without negative COVID-19 reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results despite a recent Department of Health (DOH) advisory, Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz said Thursday, July 8.

So far 53 fully vaccinated travelers have been granted travel passes into Negros Occidental, he said.

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson issued Executive Order 21-34 on Tuesday, July 6, adopting Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution 124-B that states that fully vaccinated individuals need not present negative RT-PCR test results for interzonal movement.

The DOH on Wednesday said local government units can still require negative RT-PCR test results from fully vaccinated travelers for entry into their jurisdictions.

The provincial government will go ahead and implement EO 21-34 unless directed by the IATF-EID or the Department of the Interior and Local Government to withdraw it, Diaz said.

“This is an incentive for fully vaccinated individuals. If you are fully vaccinated you will have ease of travel,” he added.

Diaz said the provincial government is also preparing to launch it QR codes for the vaccination cards of fully vaccinated individuals in Negros Occidental, he said.

“It will be our basis to check the validity of their claims that they had been fully vaccinated,” Diaz said.

The provincial government is stepping up measures to detect fraudulent vaccination cards, he added.

IN BACOLOD

Meanwhile, Bacolod City is still requiring fully vaccinated incoming travelers to present negative RT-PCR test results, City Administrator Em Ang and Councilor Cindy Rojas, chairperson of the Action Team on Non- Returning Residents, said Thursday.

The status quo remains for Bacolod City’s travel requirements, Ang said.

Bacolod never lifted the rule requiring inbound travelers to present negative test results, Rojas said.

Rojas said such requirement is vital especially with the current state of COVID-19 cases in Bacolod City.

The DOH in its public advisory Wednesday said: “As we iron out operational concerns raise by some implementers, Resolution 101 remains in effect, which affords the LGUs the flexibility to require negative RT-PCR results before granting anyone entry into their locality.”

It also said that the DOH has never advocated for antigen testing as a requirement for travel.

Resolution 101 states that should LGUs require testing as a requirement prior to travel, it should be limited to RT-PCR only, the advisory said.

“Antigen testing is never recommended for border control purposes,” it said.

IN NEGROS ORIENTAL

In Negros Oriental inbound travelers can now present a vaccination card and negative antigen test for COVID-19 as alternate entry requirements, Provincial Information Officer Bimbo Miraflor was quoted as saying in a report from the Philippine News Agency.

Miraflor said a fully vaccinated person is not guaranteed to be free of COVID-19 so it will also be required of that individual to present a negative antigen result.

There is really no conflict between the DOH’s public advisory and the provincial IATF’s ruling, what is said in the advisory is they are not promoting the antigen test as a stand-alone requirement, Miraflor said.*

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