The threat of the Omicron COVID-19 variant and the rising cases in the country after the holidays has led a number of tourist destinations to once again reinstate the requirement of a negative RT-PCR test for visitors.
With Typhoon Odette also devastating the southern and central regions of the country during the tail-end of December, popular spots such are Siargao, Bohol, and Palawan are still in the process of rehabilitating their provinces.
On Jan. 6, the Philippines logged a record 17,220 daily COVID-19 cases while confirmed cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant have risen to 43.
If you're planning a trip or still looking forward to a planned vacation sometime soon, here's a running list of tourist spots that require a negative RT-PCR test.
After foregoing the need for a negative COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated individuals back in October, Aklan is once again requiring both vaccinated and non-vaccinated tourists to present a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) at least 72 hours before arrival on the island.
In the first executive order of 2022 signed by Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores, the destination island will also see a reinstated curfew from 10 PM to 4 AM.
Baguio has also reimposed the need for a negative RT-PCR test result for individuals coming from areas under Alert Level 3 at least 72 hours before arrival. The Summer Capital of the Philippines has also temporarily suspended the issuance of leisure travel permits starting Jan. 6.
"Tourists with confirmed registrations can proceed with their travel plans while new requests were temporarily held in abeyance as we prepare to reduce the daily limit for registration to 4,000 with allowed accommodation guest occupancy of up to 70 percent due to the threat of the omicron variant," said Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong.
"The temporary suspensions were for new applications only. All other travel plans approved prior to the suspension shall be allowed so as not to unduly prejudice travelers and establishments on preparations that have already been made," the mayor added.
With the vacation island currently under Alert Level 2, La Union is still accepting visitors given that they present a negative COVID-19 result, with the type of test depending on their vaccination status.
Fully vaccinated individuals can provide a negative antigen or "rapid" test result at least three days before arrival. Meanwhile, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated tourists must undergo the RT-PCR test three days before arrival to be allowed entry.
With the “Queen City of the South” still recovering from Typhoon Odette and the entry of two confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has mulled over the possibility of requiring a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test to bring "a certain level of comfort" to its citizens.
“Perhaps, kombinasyon na... whether RT-PCR will be a requirement or whatever other requirements that may bring [a] certain level of comfort for Cebu City,” Rama said on Jan 4.
The mayor added that he is set to file an executive order to implement stricter regulations on the town's tourist guidelines.
Amid the rising COVID cases in the province, Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc has also signed an executive order on Jan. 5 requiring all visitors, regardless of vaccination status to present a negative COVID-19 test result before entering the area.
A negative RT-PCR may be presented within the last 60 hours before arrival. Meanwhile, a negative antigen test administered by a DOH-accredited testing facility must be taken within the last 24 hours before entry to Ilocos Norte.
Shortly after reporting their first Omicron case on Jan. 5, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. has also tightened the restrictions for both visitors and returning residents of the province.
In his first executive order of the year, the province will require a negative RT-PCR result taken within 72 hours before arrival, regardless of an individual's vaccination status.
The EO will take effect on Jan. 10, 2022.
Negros Occidental's Gov. Bong Lacson has also signed an executive order requiring all visitors, regardless of vaccination status, to issue a negative RT-PCR result at least 72 hours before their arrival.
The EO will take effect on Jan. 9, with the province conducting antigen tests for incoming passengers and seaports from Jan. 7 to Jan 9 in the meanwhile. Travelers will also need to send in their S-Pass travel permit before entry.