LAOAG CITY – The province of Ilocos Norte is not relaxing its travel protocols even to fully vaccinated individuals entering its borders.
Atty. Athena Nicolette “Nikki” Pilar, project head of the Metro Ilocos Norte Council who has been facilitating the entry of returning residents as well as non-residents in the province, said Tuesday the existing border protocols remain in place even for individuals who have completed their vaccine against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“Status quo pa rin po tayo (We are still on status quo),” said Pilar when asked if Ilocos Norte has loosened up its strict border measures following the latest pronouncement of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases, allowing interzonal travel of fully-vaccinated persons including senior citizens without having to present a negative Covid-19 swab test result.
"We have not escalated our quarantine status because our cases are mostly concentrated in certain barangays. However, our hospitals, isolation facilities, and front liners are being challenged,” said Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc in a public statement on Monday evening.
Early on, some fully-vaccinated individuals from Ilocos Sur who frequently pass the Ilocos Norte border for work have expressed excitement over the new IATF rule which could have lessened the burden of paying for their Covid-19 test on a weekly basis.
“I hope the Ilocos Norte government would reconsider and make the validity of the Covid-19 test longer just like in other provinces which belong to the less risk category,” said Rolan Oracion, a government worker in Ilocos Norte but residing in Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur with his family.
As a frequent border passer, Oracion said he needs to submit himself to antigen test every two weeks in order to get in at the Ilocos Norte border for work. This means an additional cut from his monthly income instead of saving it for other essentials.
In Ilocos Sur, local officials said they still need to finalize its protocols should they forgo the minimum Covid-19 testing requirements for fully-vaccinated travelers. (PNA)