DILG Orders Batanes To Withdraw 14-Day Quarantine Requirement For Travelers

AdChoiceTV News — The Department of the Interior and Local Government earlier said local government units only have the final say on COVID-19 testing for travelers while the rest of the new protocols would already be standardized.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government on Thursday, March 4, ordered the province of Batanes to withdraw the 14-day quarantine requirement for all travelers.

The DILG earlier said local government units (LGUs) only have the final say on COVID-19 testing for travelers while the rest of the new protocols would already be standardized.

A photo of Batanes hills taken on Feb. 14, 2020 by netizen Jom Ramos.

DILG Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya warned the department will not hesitate to issue a show cause order against the Batanes provincial government if it does not rescind its directive.

 “We advise them to withdraw their policy because that violates the national policy of the government,” he said in a phone interview.

Malaya explained the resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases only allows quarantine for travelers with COVID-19 symptoms.

“If their intent is to quarantine all travelers with or without symptoms, that is a violation of the IATF resolution,” he said.

Malaya noted an option that the Batanes local government could take is to subject travelers exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms during clinical assessment upon arrival  to a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

Malaya reminded the provincial government of Batanes that it should always follow the guidelines set by the national government.

“We appeal to them to please comply kasi parte naman sila ng Republika ng Pilipinas,” he said.

There has been confusion over the announcement of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases that the travel protocols have become uniform since COVID-19 testing could still be required by some LGUs.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Secretary to the Cabinet and IATF co-chairman Karlo Nograles said the general rule is that no testing is required except when the LGUs need it. “So it’s really up to the LGU.”

On Wednesday, March 3, the provincial government of Batanes posted an advisory, saying its COVID-19 task group decided on Monday, March 1 to strictly implement the two-week quarantine either in a government facility or accredited or designated private facility or hotel to be monitored by the health cluster of the LGU on a daily basis.

Authorized persons outside residence, such as uniformed personnel and national government officials, are required to go on quarantine for seven days provided they agree to undergo swab or antigen test for COVID-19 on the fifth day of their isolation

In compliance with IATF Resolution 101 issued on Feb. 26, the Batanes provincial government said a medical certificate and travel authority shall no longer be required for inbound travelers.

However, a certificate of acceptance issued by the LGU of destination is required based on the discretion of the receiving mayor.

The IATF resolution sets uniform travel protocols for land, air and sea, which also states that testing for travelers shall not be mandatory except if required by the LGU and shall be limited to RT-PCR.

The resolution states that no traveler shall be required to undergo quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms upon arrival at the LGU of destination.

The provincial government said Batanes remains closed to tourists.

The province was declared COVID-free after its three confirmed cases recovered.

The last active case – an 82-year-old resident who arrived on a commercial light plane – was recorded in December.

Reporting by Albert Rovic Tan

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