CAAP bans entry of unvaxxed passengers to GenSan airport

The General Santos City Airport. MindaNews photo by ALLEN V. ESTABILLO

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 12 Jan) – The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has temporarily banned the entry of unvaccinated persons to the city international airport in the wake of the threats posed by the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a memorandum issued on Tuesday, city CAAP and airport manager Joel Gavina ordered the strict enforcement “effective immediately” of the “no vaccination card, no entry policy” at the airport’s premises.

He said the move is in response to the “alarming” surge of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila and other areas that are believed caused by the highly contagious Omicron strain.

It is also in anticipation of the emergence of possible variant cases in the city and the neighboring cities and regions “that could affect the operation” of the city airport, he said.

Under Airport Memorandum No. 001-2022, all airport and airline employees, as well as passengers, visitors, guests, and other clients, are required to present and wear or display their COVID-19 vaccination cards or certificates at all times.

“Only [persons] with vaccination cards or certificates are allowed inside the airport,” Gavina said.

CAAP designated an advance checkpoint at the main gate to conduct inspections on all those entering the airport.

Gavina said all those entering the airport’s premises are required to undergo temperature check and strictly follow the health protocols, specifically the wearing of face masks and observance of safe physical distancing.

He said arriving passengers who are partially vaccinated or only received the first dose of the vaccine are required to present valid reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test results taken within 72 hours before arrival.

They should be registered with the S-PaSS or Safe, Swift, and Smart Passage system to facilitate travel to their respective destinations, Gavina said.

He said children aged 12 years old and below are temporarily not allowed to enter the airport unless they are airline passengers.

Violators “will be given appropriate reprimand and/or penalty in accordance with the existing local or national laws” related to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

Dr. Sulpicio Henry Legaspi, assistant director of the Department of Health-Region 12, said they fully support the implementation of such policy based on a mandate from the national Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“That’s for the common good and at the same time aimed to protect [the unvaccinated individuals],” he told reporters in Koronadal City.

He said data showed that most of the severe COVID-19 cases involved individuals who are unvaccinated and partially vaccinated.

Region 12 (Soccsksargen) has remained under low-risk status but new COVID-19 cases in this city have been increasing since late last week.

The City Health Office reported a total of 147 active COVID-19 cases here as of Tuesday night, increasing by 374 percent from the 31 cases on Jan. 5. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)