Effective tomorrow, January 8 until January 15, 2021, travelers from Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, and Brazil or those with travel history to these countries 14 days prior to their arrival, will be subject to travel restrictions and/or quarantine and testing protocols upon arrival in the Philippines, in light of the new COVID-19 variant.
“Ang mga banyagang pasahero na manggagaling sa anim na bansang ito, or nagpunta sa mga nasabing bansa ng labing-apat na araw bago dumating sa Pilipinas, ay pinagbabawalang makapasok sa Pilipinas,” said Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr in a press briefing in Malacañang on January 7, 2021.
The Palace official said that Filipinos are exempt from the travel restriction as they will be allowed entry to the country even if they came from or have been to the said countries within 14 days before their arrival. However, returning Filipinos will have to comply with the 14-day absolute facility-based quarantine, even with a negative RT-PCR test result.
With the expected surge in COVID-19 cases because of the Christmas and New Year celebrations, and with the possible entry of the new variant, the Palace spokesman said that it was necessary to impose such restriction. “Yung temporary travel ban ay hindi naman po masyadong matagal po, January 15, at ito po ay para mabigyan naman pagkakataon makapaghanda tayo kung magkaroon nga ng surge ng kaso,” said Secretary Roque.
“Pero ang mabuting balita naman at salamat sa Panginoon, so far, hindi pa naman natin nakikita yung surge na galing po ng Pasko at Bagong Taon. Pero pinaghahandaan po natin yan. Kaya nga nagkaroon tayo ng temporary travel ban hanggang January 15,” Sec. Roque said.
Roque added that foreign passengers who will arrive before January 8, 12:01 AM, Manila time, from the said countries or who have travelled to the same countries within 14 days, will be allowed entry but will have to undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, even with a negative RT-PCR test result.
The Palace official further said that foreign and Filipino passengers who merely transited from the said countries will be allowed entry as long they do not leave the airport during layover or were not cleared for entry in the layover country. These transiting passengers will be allowed to do home quarantine if they obtain a negative RT-PCR test result.
“Pero kung ang transiting foreign passengers na ito ay umalis ng airport or pinayagan makapasok sa mga bansang kasali sa travel restrictions ay hindi sila maaring makapasok sa Pilipinas,” Roque clarified.
But for transiting Filipino passengers, even if they leave the airport or were cleared for entry in any of the countries in the list of countries with travel restrictions, they will still be allowed to enter the country but will be required to undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period even with a negative RT-PCR test result.
Meanwhile, Sec. Roque said that the Office of the President also provided a ruling with regard to unaccompanied minor Filipino citizens from countries with travel restrictions. These unaccompanied minors will not be allowed entry to the country until January 15, 2021. Unaccompanied Filipino minors will only be allowed entry if they are included in the government’s repatriation program, after which they will be endorsed to an Overseas Workers Welfare Administration house parent, in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), to ensure their safety and their adherence to quarantine protocols.
If the unaccompanied minor is not included in the repatriation program of the government, and arrived before January 8, they will be turned over to a DSWD officer who can ensure their safety and their observance of quarantine protocols.
Accordingly, the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) issued exemptions to the travel restrictions and quarantine and testing protocols for arriving passengers from countries where the Philippines’ travel ban applies. Local/accredited foreign diplomats and international organizations like the World Health Organization and United Nations will be exempt from the quarantine protocols but they will need to take an RT-PCR test upon arrival in the airport, execute an undertaking, and observe 14-day quarantine. Foreign dignitaries are also exempt but would also need to observe testing and quarantine protocols.
Those who travel for medical and emergency cases, including their medical escorts, are likewise exempt from the said travel restrictions, while those with highly exceptional and/or medical reasons as evaluated by the Department of Health, will be exempt from the quarantine protocol. The IATF also ruled that individuals who have been vaccinated in other countries will still have to undergo mandatory testing and quarantine protocols upon arrival in the country. ### OPS-PCOO