The government task force against COVID-19 lifted the requirement for airlines operating domestic flights to setup isolation areas for crew or passengers showing COVID-19 symptoms.
On Thursday, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) said such protocol “shall no longer be mandated to be part of the COVID-19 health protocols.”
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) recommended the policy change.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the decision was made since airlines are already requiring passengers to present RT-PCR or antigen test results before departure.
He added symptomatic crew and passengers would also not be allowed to board the aircraft.
“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 in a statement.
“Also, there are now more improved health protocols from boarding to landing to use of High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. It was also pointed out that domestic flights are of short duration only generally not exceeding 1.5 hours.”
Isolation areas on domestic flights no longer required
Roque also said removing the isolation area requirement would not contradict the guidelines and protocols of the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The IATF has also directed local government units (LGUs) to ease health entry protocols imposed upon airline crew layovers/positioning due to emergencies (typhoons, volcanic activities, diversions, and emergency landings, other similar unforeseen and time-sensitive evacuations).
With this, LGUs will exempt airline crew of domestic flights from the test-upon-arrival requirement. They will also be allowed to stay temporarily in accommodation establishments under a “bubble” concept as supervised by the LGUs.
“For this purpose, the DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government] is instructed to coordinate with all LGUs to align their health entry protocols for this limited purpose. The CAAP is likewise instructed to supervise and police the implementation of these activities,” the resolution stated.