Govt bars entry of foreigners

Foreign visitors and Filipinos who are not overseas workers will not be allowed to enter the country beginning March 20 as the nation recalibrates its quarantine protocols following a surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases and the detection of new variants.

HOME AT LAST Overseas Filipino workers arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 on March 17, 2021 amid heightened restrictions and three days before the Philippines closes its doors to foreign travelers.
Photo by J. Gerard Seguia

Foreign visitors and visiting overseas Filipinos who are not classified as overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will be barred, a memorandum signed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, as chairman of the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF), said.

The travel restriction will take effect until April 19.

Inbound international passengers will also be limited to only 1,500 per day.

Not covered by the memorandum are holders of seafarer’s or 9(e) visas and medical repatriates and their companions as endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

Also exempted are returning distressed Filipinos, who should also be endorsed by the DFA, as well as emergency, humanitarian and special cases with prior approval from the NTF.

Explaining the need for the measure, Lorenzana took note of the “significant increase” of cases that he attributed to “noncompliance” with the public with minimum health standards.

Lorenzana’s memorandum also highlighted the detection of new virus variants that are more transmissible in the country.

New variants were detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil while the Philippines also recorded its own variant.

Arrival limit

The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has directed airlines operating at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to limit the number of arriving passengers to a maximum of 1,500 per day.

The CAB advisory stated that the scaling down of international flights will start on March 18 (8 a.m. Philippine time) and will last until April 19.

The directive covers local and foreign airlines that have international flights to and from Manila.

Air carriers that will exceed the allowed capacity will be penalized.

The CAB order prompted Philippine Airlines (PAL) to cancel a number of international flights to and from Manila.

“Philippine Airlines will operate our full international schedule for March 18 but we will be announcing in due course any flight cancellations on other days for the rest of the period,” PAL said in a statement.

“Please note that certain passenger types will thus need to postpone their Manila-bound travel until after the stated period,” it added.