The Philippine government is extending travel restrictions on 35 countries until January 31 in an effort to curb the entry of the B117 variant of the virus causing COVID-19.
The latest countries to be added to an initial list of 32 are United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Hungary, as announced by Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on January 15; and Czech Republic, announced on January 26.
The United Arab Emirates was where the Philippines’ first case of the new variant traveled from prior to testing positive for COVID-19. It had been added hours after Malacañang announced a list of 32 countries whose travel restrictions set to expire on January 15 were extended.
Countries facing travel restrictions until January 31
- Czech Republic (starting January 28, 12:01 am)
- United Arab Emirates (starting January 17, 12:01 am)
- Hungary (starting January 17, 12:01 am)
- United Kingdom
- United States
- The Netherlands
- South Korea
- South Africa
- China, including Hong Kong
The restrictions mean that non-Filipino travelers coming from the countries listed above will not be allowed to enter the Philippines. However, Filipinos will be allowed to enter but must undergo a strict 14-day quarantine, regardless of a negative swab test result.
Slightly different rules govern the travel restrictions for UAE and Hungary because they are set to take effect on Sunday, January 17, yet.
Before 12:01 am of January 17, foreign travellers will be allowed to enter the Philippines but must undergo a 14-day quarantine, whether or not their swab test comes out negative.
How about travelers who merely transited through one of these countries?
All passengers, Filipinos or foreigners alike, merely transiting through countries covered by travel restrictions will not be considered as having come from or having been to the country, “provided the passengers stayed in the airport the whole time and they were not cleared for entry by the immigration authorities of the said country covered by our travel restrictions.”
Rules for minors
Unless such a minor is returning through the government’s repatriation program, he or she will be denied entry into the Philippines until January 31, said Roque on Friday.
Minors under the repatriation program will be turned over to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration house parent who will be in charge of the minor’s safety. They are tasked to coordinate with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Meanwhile, all unaccompanied minor Filipino citizens who make it to a Philippine airport, even if they had departed from a country covered by the new travel restrictions, “shall not be sent back to their port of departure.”
Instead, they will be turned over to DSWD officer who will be in charge of their safety and make sure they undergo quarantine.
The two-week extension of restrictions was announced on the day initial travel restrictions were set to expire and two days after the health department confirmed that the more transmissible variant has entered the country.
The Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases said it may issue guidelines on exemptions to entry restrictions but did not say when these guidelines would be released. – Rappler.com