Stay-at-home orders for over a year have fueled wanderlust for many Filipinos who are eager to fulfill their revenge travel goals.
Many Filipinos want to travel with their families, preferably in less crowded spots, an Airbnb survey released earlier this month showed. But with the surge in COVID-19 cases and the threat of new virus variants, is it really time to plan that family getaway?
It's a "timing question," said Dr. Beverly Ho, who heads the Department of Health's communication services.
"We have a lot to look at in the next few weeks. Sana po lahat kayo mas more tentative. Let's be flexible," Ho told Summit Sandwich Sessions on Thursday.
The Philippines has been battling a surge in COVID-19 infections that is concentrated in Metro Manila, which threatens economic recovery and further easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
This means that summer travel goals might need be put on hold again depending on how the COVID-19 situation develops.
"Once the cases improve in the next few weeks, then perhaps that's a possibility (family trip) but if we're not able to manage it as well as we should be, then let's be ready to cancel our trips lalo na kung hindi naman siya urgent at essential," Dr. Ho said.
Whether you're planning or simply thinking about traveling with your family again, here are things to consider in the time of COVID-19:
1. Risks of family members
For families with elderly members and those with comorbidities, Ho said leisure trips shouldn't be done during the pandemic since they are at the most risk of contracting COVID-19.
"Do you still have elderly, people with comorbidities at home? So if yes, I think the answer is very clear you shouldn't even be considering it because they are at most risk of severe infection or dying," she said.
Going out, according to Ho, means that you have weighed the risks of the activity before doing it.
"You can wear your mask, face shield etc., but then there are some things you can't control when you're in these public spaces."
2. Are there alternatives?
What is the goal of going on a family trip during a pandemic? Is it to get out of the house? See new sights?
Whatever it is, Ho said it's best to think if there are alternative ways to fulfill it without too much exposure to the risks of contracting the virus.
"Is it being physically out of the house that's needed? And if so, we don't have the restrictions we had last year. Now, mas stronger din yung advocacy namin for open spaces, people to be able to bike outside, makapag-community playgrounds etc.," she said.
3. Check the destination
Should you and your family decide to push through with a trip, Ho advised checking the compliance of the destination with COVID-19 protocols as well as accreditation with the Department of Tourism.
"If you are going to another place, you will have to make sure that that area is going to be fully secured din--sanitized very well, and our DOT has made efforts to make sure that places that we go to are going to be very safe and secure," she said.
For the month of March, COVID-19 restrictions in the Philippines have been limited only to general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
Leisure travel is generally allowed in MGCQ areas while select accredited hotels in Metro Manila accept staycations.