Restrictions on foreign nationals expanded
MANILA – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said they have expanded the entry travel restrictions effective midnight of January 3,2021.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in adherence to an order from the Office of the President, foreign passengers coming from the United States of America have been included in the list of those restricted entry in the country.
In a statement released Saturday afternoon, the Bureau of Immigration said the USA adds to the list of 31 countries with temporary travel restrictions imposed due to the reported new strain of COVID-19 that has affected the United Kingdom.
Foreigners coming from 21countries have been temporarily prohibited from entering the Philippines, including the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, The Netherlands, Hong Kong SAR, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Spain and the United States of America.
“Foreigners from the US have been added to the list of those restricted,” said Commissioner Morente. He added aliens from the US eligible for entry that arrive prior to January 3, will be allowed to enter but will be referred to the One Stop Shop for an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period.
He clarified Filipinos arriving from the said areas will be allowed to enter, but will also be referred for a strict 14-day quarantine.
Passengers who are merely transiting through any of the countries covered by the ban will be allowed to enter, provided that they stayed in the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry in the covered country by its immigration authorities.
“Aliens with connecting flights and merely had a layover in the 21 countries may not be allowed to enter if eligible for entry,” Morente added. However, the Immigration official said if they left the airport or were cleared for arrival in the 21 countries, they are prohibited from entering the Philippines.
Those who traveled to the 21 countries 14 days prior to their arrival in the Philippines will not be allowed entry. Aliens not coming from the 21 restricted countries are subject to the existing Inter-Agency Task Force Against Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) guidelines.
Port Operations Division Chief Atty. Candy Tan said they are on alert to implement changes in travel policies set by the IATF and the Office of the President.
She said international travel dropped 79% in 2020.
“What used to be a bustling airport during Christmas and new Year is now silent and somber. There are still a number of traveling passengers but not as robust as the numbers we saw in the past years,” Tan said.
She added they hope for the revival of confidence in international travel but are constrained to take the strict measures for everyone’s safety. (Melo M. Acuña)
A file photo of travelers at NAIA prior to COVID-19 pandemic. (Melo M. Acuna)