MANILA, Philippines – The government policy task force on the coronavirus pandemic has agreed to lift the ban on non-essential outbound travel for Filipinos, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday, July 7.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases has issued resolution number 52, in which it approves a recommendation from its technical working group to ease restrictions on Filipinos traveling to other countries.
Before this, Filipinos were only allowed to leave the country for “essential” reasons such as overseas work or if they are residents of the countries they wish to travel to.
Now, Filipinos must only fulfill the following conditions to be allowed foreign travel:
- Submission of confirmed round-trip tickets for those traveling on tourist visas
- Adequate travel health insurance to cover rebooking and accommodation expenses, should they end up stranded abroad. The Department of Tourism has yet to provide the specific amount.
- They are allowed entry by the destination country, in accordance with their travel, health, and quarantine restrictions. In other words, Filipinos are not banned from entering the country of destination.
- Execution of a “declaration” acknowledging the risks involved in traveling
In his televised media briefing on Tuesday, Roque said tourism is still prohibited. Rappler clarified this with Roque, because the conditions appear to indicate otherwise, and he corrected himself, saying, “Okay na tourism (Tourism is okay already).”
Upon their return to the Philippines, Filipino travelers are required to take a reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or swab test for the coronavirus, and be quarantined until they test negative for the disease.
The lifting of the travel restrictions will take effect 15 days after the notice is published in the government’s Official Gazette. Roque estimates it will be cleared by mid-August.
The government made the decision even as the COVID-19 cases continued to spike in the Philippines and other countries.
The Department of Health on Monday, July 6, reported a total 46,333 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 1,303 deaths and 12,185 recoveries. The number of new cases reported daily has increased over the past week, with a record 2,434 new cases confirmed on Sunday, July 5.
Roque said the government is trying to balance public health and safety with the need to keep the economy going. Earlier lockdown measures have forced many Filipinos out of jobs, and businesses into closure. People must observe health safety protocols when traveling, Roque added. – Rappler.com