BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Philippine Air Lines expects more local government units to ease travel restrictions as the government ramps up the nationwide vaccination drive, and allows point to point travel for all ages, provided seniors, pregnant women and persons with identified health risks are fully vaccinated.
This comes after both Negros Occidental and highly urbanized Bacolod City started relaxing travel restrictions to fully vaccinated individuals for their entry to the province, without negative RT-PCR test results.
Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson approved the request of Philippine Air Lines for a special flight for fully vaccinated individuals that is scheduled to depart from Manila at around 8:00 am and will arrive at the Bacolod-Silay International Airport at around 9:20 am, every Monday and Friday, starting October 18 until November 29 this year.
The government’s intensified vaccination drive across various provinces is an important factor in these decisions to make travel more convenient while ensuring the safety of everyone,” said PAL Senior Vice President for Strategy and Planning, Mr. Dexter C. Lee.
The new guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) allow point-to-point interzonal travel (including leisure travel) from the National Capital Region to areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and/or Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) for fully vaccinated individuals over 65 years of age, or with comorbidities and other health risks, as well as pregnant women.
Additionally, individuals ages 18 to 65, regardless of vaccination status, continue to be allowed to travel, subject to the regulations and protocols set by the Local Government Unit (LGU) of the destination city or province and the guidelines of the Department of Tourism, PAL said in a statement.
PAL manager Rene Aviles, in seeking the permission of Lacson to allow fully vaccinated individuals to travel from Manila to Bacolod, said that all passengers will avail of a special discounted rate of P3,750 all-in-fare without undergoing an RT-PCR test.
Travelers to the province are given the option to either post their negative RT-PCR test result or their vaccination card via the S-PaSS system. All the vaccination cards should be reflected in the provincial Management Information System or the vaccination portal of the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT).
Aviles said the purpose of the special flight is to help promote the government vaccination program.
As of October 13, 2021, domestic destinations which have relaxed their travel requirements and provided special considerations for fully vaccinated travelers include, aside from Negros Occidental, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Catarman, Coron, Culion, Dipolog City, Guimaras, Iloil0 City, Maguindanao province, except Cotabato, Ozamiz, Puerto Princesa, Pagadi-an City, Tacloban, Negros Oriental Cebu province and Cebu City.
PAL, however, said that in-bound tourists whose final destination is Mactan island must comply with Lapu-Lapu City’s travel requirements. Currently, Lapu-Lapu City requires a negative RT-PCR/Antigen test result prior to departure.
It added that fully-vaccinated travelers traveling to Dumaguete and in Negros Oriental may take an Antigen test with a negative result (valid up to 48 hours upon release of result) instead of an RT-PCR test and present their Vaccination Cards/Records.
The flag carrier urges the flying public to take advantage of their fully vaccinated status when traveling to domestic destinations.
“PAL continues to airlift essential vaccines to various parts of the country, in partnership with the Philippine government. To date, PAL has carried 8.7 million vaccine doses from Manila to provinces in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. This 45 comprises percent of the total number of vaccine doses flown domestically since March this year,” Lee said.*