Local execs reject easing of travel requirements

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    GOVERNORS and mayors oppose the proposal of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to remove COVID-19 test results as a primary requirement for local tourism travels, a department official disclosed yesterday.

    Epimaco Densing, undersecretary for operations, said the DILG will present the concern of the local government officials during a meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases today.

    Densing said he had a consultation meeting with governors and mayors last Tuesday to discuss the DILG proposal and other protocols related to reviving the local tourism industry.

    He said that while the local executives agreed to the establishment of a common protocol for land, sea and air travels, and the removal of the PNP travel authority as requirements for local travel, they insisted on retaining test results as a prerequisite for local travelers.

    Ang sa kanila, regardless kung saan ka manggagaling, MGCQ o GCG or pupunta ka sa parehong community quarantine classification, gusto nila may testing (For them, regardless if you are coming from an MGCQ or GCQ area or you’re going to a place with a similar community quarantine classification, they still want testing),” Densing said.

    “That is the only area where we did not agree. I told them that (today), we’ll have an IATF meeting. That will be included in the discussion and decided upon by the IATF,” he added.

    Densing insisted that the DILG proposal to remove the COVID-19 test result for local tourism travel has “scientific basis” and is backed by the Department of Health and its resident epidemiologists.

    He reiterated testing should be made mandatory only to those who have symptoms or those who have been exposed to a COVID-19 patient.

    The others, he said, should just observe minimum health standards like wearing of face masks and face shields, observing physical distancing and frequent handwashing. He said the risk of infection is 95 percent less if minimum health standards are observed.