MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Airports in the island of Luzon will no longer operate outbound international flights starting Friday, March 20, as the Philippine government enforces an “enhanced community quarantine,” which, in effect, is a total lockdown of the island.
Travelers planning to fly abroad via Luzon only have Tuesday to Thursday, March 17 to 19, to depart.
There was some confusion, however, over who could leave.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) initially said only outbound foreigners “shall be allowed travel for a period of 72 hours” from the effectivity of the quarantine, which started 12 am on Tuesday.
Asked whether overseas Filipino workers are exempted from the rule, Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran said on Tuesday, “Ang instruction (The instruction is) no Filipinos shall be allowed to leave the country.”
But during the IATF meeting later in the day, officials agreed that even Filipinos could fly abroad. By that time, almost 16 hours of the 72-hour window had already passed. (READ: Gov’t changes mind: All can fly abroad via Luzon before March 20)
Are there exceptions? Beginning Friday, only uniformed personnel transporting medical supplies, individuals carrying lab specimens, and those on humanitarian missions will be allowed to travel by air.
Inbound flight passengers, meanwhile, will be “allowed transit,” subject to quarantine procedures if they come from a country with existing travel restrictions imposed by the IATF.
Only Filipinos, their spouses and children, holders of a permanent resident visa, and foreign diplomats will be allowed entry into the Philippines from an international flight.
Transportation Undersecretary Raul del Rosario said “transportation will be provided” by the department for passengers going to and coming from the airport.
The Philippine government earlier barred domestic flights from flying in and out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the country’s main gateway, as part of restrictions on land, air, and sea travel.
On Monday, March 16, President Rodrigo Duterte announced the upgraded quarantine protocols in a bid to curb coronavirus cases in the country, as the initial lockdown in Metro Manila did not seem to work.
There are 187 cases of the coronavirus in the Philippines as of Tuesday, with 12 deaths and 4 recoveries. – Rappler.com
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