To further control the new coronavirus disease variant to spread, foreign nationals coming from or have travel history to countries with known COVID-19 variant within the last 14 days prior to arrival in the Philippines are still restricted from entering the country.
Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr. stressed this during his press briefing held in Samal Island, Davao del Norte on January 25, 2021.
“As a general rule, eto po malinaw, bawal pa rin ang lahat ng mga banyaga na manggagaling sa tatlumput-limang (35) bansang may travel restrictions hanggang katapusan po ng buwan,” Secretary Roque said.
Travel restriction exemptions
Roque cited exemptions to this travel restriction, which includes foreign nationals with valid visas, such as personnel of accredited international organizations, and the spouse and underaged children of Filipino citizens they travelled together with.
Moreover, the Bureau of Immigration stated foreign nationals with the following visas who have not been to the 35 travel-restricted countries within the last 14 days from arrival in the Philippines, may be allowed entry effective January 17, 2021: Section 13 series of Commonwealth Act (CA) No. 613, as amended, 13 Quota, 13(a), 13(b), 13(c), 13(d), 13(e), 13(g) visas; RA 7919 visa; EO 324 visa; Native Born visa; Temporary Resident Visa relative to Section 13 of CA 613, as amended (based on Memorandum Order (MO) No. ADD-01-038/ ADD-02-015); MCL-07-021 Permanent Resident Visa based on Section 13(a) of CA 613 under MO No. MCL-07-021; EO226 visa; Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV) under EO 226; 47(a)2 visa issued by the Department of Justice; and Section 9(d) of CA No. 613, as amended.
Roque added that foreign nationals who have not been to the 35 travel-restricted countries within the last 14 days from arrival in the Philippines may be allowed entry, effective January 17, 2021, if they have visas issued with by the following economic zones: Aurora Pacific Economic Zone, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, and Clark Development Corporation.
Travelers covered by these exemptions will still be required to comply with applicable testing and quarantine protocols of the Department of Health (DOH). Accredited foreign diplomats and personnel of accredited organizations such as the World Health Organization and the United Nations will have to undergo RT-PCR test upon arrival at the airport, execute an undertaking, and observe strict 14-day quarantine.
“Sa mga dumating dahil sa medical at emergency cases, pati na medical escorts, kung mayroon, ay sasailalim na ngayon sa applicable testing and quarantine protocols as prescribed by the Department of Health,” Roque said.
Meanwhile, foreign dignitaries will be asked to observe existing testing and quarantine protocols upon arrival. The same testing and quarantine protocols will apply to the spouse and underaged children of Filipino citizens who traveled with them. Filipino citizens from jurisdictions or countries with the new variant will also undergo the prescribed testing and quarantine protocols.
“Pagdating naman po sa testing at quarantine protocols para sa mga pasaherong manggagaling sa, or magtra-transit sa mga bansang kung saan mayroon travel restrictions dahil sa new COVID-19 variants, ang mga pasaherong ito ay ite-test pagdating at iku-quarantine hanggang makuha ang resulta ng subsequent test na ia-administer sa ikalimang araw,” Roque explained.
In the said press briefing, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire affirmed this new testing and quarantine protocols. Vergeire said that all returning overseas Filipinos and foreigners who will be allowed to enter the country must be tested at the airport and undergo quarantine regardless of PCR test result.
These individuals will be tested again on the fifth day and will be handed over to their LGU destinations if they tested negative for the continuation of their 14-day quarantine, or will be asked to stay in quarantine if they test positive, said Vergeire.
On the matter of the detected presence of the new COVID-19 variant in the Philippines, Vergeire provided an update on the contact tracing that is being done on the 16 additional cases and said that they are still verifying whether the cases in Benguet and Bontoc are community-acquired and if the cases are connected.
Meanwhile, during the same press briefing, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said that it is time to consider risk management instead of risk avoidance in the gradual reopening of the economy.
Lopez said that as long as the minimum public health standards are enforced and observed by the people, further gradual reopening of the economy can help in the country’s economic recovery.
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