MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippines will stop issuing visas to foreigners worldwide to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus in the country, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Loscin Jr said on Thursday, March 16.
Foreigners from at least 100 countries enjoying visa-free privileges will likewise not be able to travel to the Philippines temporarily.
Locsin said all Philippine visas previously issued to foreigners were likewise deemed canceled.
Only visas already issued to Filipinos’ foreign spouses and children remained valid.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) chief said the mode effectively goes “one imperative step forward: a total ban on incoming foreign visitors of all nationalities, no exceptions.”
Locsin made the announcement on Twitter, a day after he suggested the Philippines would halt its visa issuance schemes and floated the possibility of suspending visa free privileges for all countries except those in Southeast Asia.
“Starting today (March 19), all our embassies and consulates will temporarily suspend visa issuance to all foreign nationals as well as the visa-free entry privileges for all foreign nationals” Locsin tweeted on Thursday afternoon.
“We are stopping the issuance of visas from all posts abroad and here,” Locsin said.
Locsin added outgoing foreign visitors stuck in the Philippines should likewise be given “all the help to get out.”
How this will take effect: As the DFA is in charge of issuing visas in its foreign posts abroad, visa applications will not be approved during the Luzon lockdown, which lasts from March 17 until April 12.
We are stopping the issuance of visas from all posts abroad and here. This goes one imperative step forward: a total ban on incoming foreign visitors of all nationalities no exceptions. Outgoing foreign visitors should be given all the help to get out. Idiotic to detain them. https://t.co/6RuZNIHT02— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) March 19, 2020
Why this matters. After President Rodrigo Duterte placed an island-wide lockdown on Luzon, stringent travel restrictions were implemented to manage the flow of non-Filipinos coming from countries with a high number of confirmed coronavirus cases.
The Philippines earlier limited the suspension of visa issuances to foreigners coming from China, Hong Kong, and Macau. Aside from this, the Bureau of Immigration in January 2020, suspended the visa upon arrival (VUA) mechanism for Chinese tourists and businessmen.
With the new pronouncement, travelers from at least 100 countries that enjoy visa-free privileges to the Philippines, including the United States and several countries in Europe, will no longer be allowed to enter the Philippines.
Travel measures in place: Before Thursday’s announcement, non-Filipino travelers coming from North Gyeongsang Province, including Daegu City and Cheongdo County in South Korea; as well as Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China – ground zero of the coronavirus outbreak – were not allowed to enter the country.
All Filipinos traveling as tourists were also barred from leaving the country during the lockdown.
As of Thursday, the Philippines has reported 217 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 8 recoveries and 17 deaths.
The global death toll due to the virus has surpassed 7,800 while at least 194,000 people were infected across 150 countries. More than 69,000 have since recovered . – Rappler.com