Govt allows more travelers from abroad to enter major airports

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 15) — The government is further relaxing its daily cap on international inbound passengers entering the country's major airports.

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport can now accommodate up to 3,000 international arrivals from 2,000 every day while the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) hiked its daily cap from 300 to 1,000, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary Raul del Rosario said Thursday.

Other international airports in Clark, Subic, Laoag, and Davao have also increased arrival caps, he added.

Del Rosario also said quarantine facilities now have more vacant rooms as the number of daily COVID-19 cases nationwide have gone down compared to previous months.

"Mas maganda na ang pag-handle (ng gobyerno ng pandemya). Mas marami nang vacancy sa mga ICU at ang quarantine facilities natin ay open at saka 'yung unti-unti ring pagbubukas ng ekonomiya," he said.

[Translation: The government's handling of the pandemic has improved. Intensive care units now have more vacancies. Quarantine facilities are open and the economy also continues to reopen.]

He added that the less volume of international passengers at NAIA and MCIA is due to additional gateways that have opened in other provinces.

Removal of quarantine for fully-vaccinated passengers also helped

Del Rosario explained that quarantine facilities can now accommodate more international passengers, especially after the Philippine government removed the quarantine upon entry requirement for fully vaccinated persons from "green countries or territories," provided they present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours before arriving at the airport.

"Ibig sabihin, umiksi ang pag-stay ng mga pasahero sa quarantine facility. Mas mabilis ang turn around, mas maraming nababakanteng rooms, mas marami tayong napaparating," he explained.

[Translation: This means the stay of passengers in a quarantine facility has shortened. The turnaround is faster - more vacant rooms, more arrivals.]

The transport official also said the number of passengers who yielded positive results when they were swabbed has gone down as well.

"Nasa 1.2 (percent) or less kaya medyo confident tayo na ang arrivals natin dito sa airport (NAIA) ay nache-check ng mabuti at sapat na 'yung protocols na ipinapatupad."

[Translation: Only 1.2% or less that's why we're quite confident that our arrivals at NAIA are being checked thoroughly and the safety protocols in place are enough.]

More arrivals expected as Christmas nears

The DOTr also sees more Filipinos coming home for the Christmas season.

Del Rosario said 42,000 have arrived in the country last Oct. 1-10, which is already half of the number of arrivals in September.

The official added they're looking at further easing the daily cap in NAIA to 4,000 or even 5,000 in the coming weeks.

"Ang hangarin natin dito ay lahat ng kababayan nating gustong umuwi nitong kapaskuhan ay ma-accommodate natin," Del Rosario explained.

[Translation: Our objective here is to accommodate all of our kababayans who wish to go home this Christmas.]

DOTr data reported a daily average 5,000 passengers from abroad have entered the country's airports in the last three months of 2020.