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Cayetano wants to accelerate Covid-19 testing for tourism frontliners

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As the Department of Tourism (DOT) focuses on domestic leisure travel to reboot Philippine tourism, the House of Representatives wants to accelerate the expanded Covid-19 testing for tourism frontliners.

A recent “Philippine Travel Survey” conducted by the Department of Tourism showed that 77 percent of respondents expressed their willingness to travel to local destinations once restrictions are lifted.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said he supports the plan of the National Task Force against Covid-19 to expand testing strategy covering non-medical frontliners who are not showing symptoms of the disease.

He also urged the DOT to work with the Task Force Test, Trace, Treat (T3) and its private sector partners to accelerate the plan to conduct Covid-19-testing for the workers in key tourist destinations in the country.

“An aggressive and sustained COVID-19 testing of our tourism frontliners is necessary to facilitate faster recovery in the tourism industry and ensure safe working environment,” said Cayetano.

“With the increased testing capacity in the country, tourism workers can be included in the expanded testing program. This initiative can help build trust and confidence of the domestic tourists as we begin to reopen more economic activities in the next few months,” Cayetano noted.

“73 percent of the respondents said that they expect health and safety protocols from travel establishments in this New Normal,” the survey noted.

On July 2, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) issued Resolution 51, approving the National Task Force’s recommendation to further expand the COVID-19 testing strategy in an effort to maximize the 10 million test kits procured by the DOH and the Department of Budget (DBM).

“Now is the best time to assess and plan to rebuild our domestic tourism industry. Our tourism sector needs to adapt, innovate and manage the changing requirements of local tourists as we transition to new normal phase,” Cayetano said.

Under the proposed Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines or ARISE Philippines Act, mass testing for COVID-19 shall be conducted in areas where higher possibility of transmission of COVID-10 may occur or have occurred.

ARISE was approved on third reading by the House before adjournment but the Senate has not passed its own version of the bill seeking to allocate P10 billion for 2020 and 2021 for the conduct of mass testing.

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