Philippines includes 7 European countries in COVID-19 travel ban

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TRAVELING. Outgoing passengers check-in at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 on May 22, 2020.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

(1st UPDATE) These countries either recently had a surge in COVID-19 cases, or reported a confirmed or suspected case of the new Omicron variant

The Philippines added seven European countries to its list of nations covered by a travel ban due to an increase in coronavirus cases in those areas and the new Omicron variant.

In a statement on Sunday, November 28, Cabinet Secretary and Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the government placed Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy under its Red List effective that day until December 15.

These countries either recently had a surge in COVID-19 cases, or reported a confirmed or suspected case of the Omicron variant.

“Inbound international travel of all persons, regardless of vaccination status, coming from or who have been to Red List countries, jurisdictions, or territories within the last 14 days prior to arrival to any port of the Philippines shall not be allowed,” said Nograles.

“Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation and Bayanihan flights may be allowed entry subject to the prevailing entry, testing, and quarantine protocols” for areas in the Red List, he added.

Passengers already in transit to the Philippines and who have been to the Red List nations within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines, who arrive before 12:01 am of Tuesday, November 30, “shall not be subject to this restriction from entry.” But they will be required to undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days, with testing on the seventh day, and “with Day 1 being the date of arrival, notwithstanding a negative RT-PCR result.”

Meanwhile, passengers who have arrived before Sunday and are undergoing quarantine should complete their respective testing and quarantine protocols, according to the classification of their origin country.

Passengers who merely transited through any of the Red List countries would not be deemed as having come from or having been to those countries “if they stayed in the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry into such country by its immigration authorities.” They must then follow existing quarantine protocols upon arrival.

The government earlier imposed travel restrictions on seven countries in Africa due to Omicron.

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Changes in quarantine rules

The government also suspended testing and quarantine protocols for countries in the Green List, the lowest level of travel restrictions due to COVID-19, from November 28 to December 15.

Passengers coming from both Green List countries and Yellow List countries would have to comply with the rules for Yellow List countries.

But passengers from Green List countries who arrived before Sunday “may still follow quarantine protocols assigned to their country of origin upon the date of their arrival,” added Nograles.

The government likewise suspended the entry of fully vaccinated foreigners who will be coming from Green List countries and who do not need a Philippine visa. It would have been implemented from December 1 to 15.

The government also directed various agencies and local government units (LGUs) to strengthen their pandemic response, in light of the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Among others, the Bureau of Quarantine and LGUs were ordered to identify and locate passengers who arrived from Red List countries within 14 days prior to Monday, November 29, and require them to complete home quarantine for 14 days from date of arrival and undergo RT-PCR tests if symptoms develop. –

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