Foreigners told to postpone travel to PH due to possible extension of travel ban

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 14) — Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday advised foreign travelers to postpone their plans to go to the Philippines this month amid the possibility of the government extending the travel ban imposed on countries with cases of the new COVID-19 variant.

The Philippines is imposing a travel ban on the following jurisdictions:

Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Oman, mainland China, United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Spain, United States, Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, Brazil, and Austria. The ban, which exempts returning Filipinos, is in effect until Friday, Jan. 15.

“Huwag na kayong bumili ng ticket kung galing kayo sa mga lugar na iyan at hindi kayo Pilipino at darating kayo on or about the 15th of January,” Roque said in a briefing, addressing foreigners from areas covered by the travel ban.

[Translation: Don’t buy plane tickets if you are from areas included in the travel ban and if you are not Filipinos; also, if you wish to come here on or around the 15th of January.]

Roque said in a televised briefing the “number one” item on the meeting agenda of the country’s coronavirus task force, the policy-making body in the government’s COVID-19 response, is whether or not to extend the travel restrictions. Members of the task force are set to meet late Thursday, he added.

The possibility of extended travel restrictions was raised after the new coronavirus variant believed to be more transmissible than other known variations was detected in a 29-year-old Filipino male who arrived home from the United Arab Emirates on Jan. 7.

This recent development prompted the Department of Health to recommend the inclusion of UAE in the list of countries and territories covered by the inbound travel restrictions.

PH gov't not keen on imposing total ban

But even if the travel ban is extended, Filipinos from affected jurisdictions will still be allowed to return to the Philippines, Roque said.

“Nanindigan na po ang Presidente walang Filipino na pupwedeng mapigilang umuwi,” he said.

[Translation: President has stood firm that no Filipinos will be barred from coming home.]

He argued that Filipinos have the right to travel, but assured measures, including 14-day mandatory quarantine, are in place to contain the new variant.