Those are the words of British tourist Ian Collins in the Philipino airport after being allowed back into the country after the Philipino government lifted a two-years ban on foreign travelers. The ban went into play in the country’s effort to protect its tourism and related industries as the omicron-fueled surge showed up.
More than a million Filipinos lost their jobs in tourism businesses and destinations in the first year of the pandemic alone, according to government statistics.
The Philippines imposed one of the world’s longest lockdowns and strictest police-enforced quarantine restrictions to quell a pandemic that caused its worst economic recession since the 1940s and pushed unemployment and hunger to record levels.
President Rodrigo Duterte warned Filipinos in televised remarks Monday that “we are not over the hump” and urged the unvaccinated to get immunized soon.
“If you’re unvaccinated and you die, well, I’ll tell you, ‘good riddance,'” the tough-talking president said. “You can walk around and if you get contaminated, you will be awfully very, very sorry for yourself and your family.”
Foreign travelers from 157 countries with visa-free arrangements with the Philippines who have been fully vaccinated and tested negative for the virus will be welcomed back and will no longer be required to quarantine upon arrival. The government also ended a risk classification system that banned travelers from the worst-hit countries.