The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Friday said foreigners will be temporarily barred from entering the Philippines in light of the Department of Foreign Affair’s (DFA) order to suspend visa issuances and visa-free privileges due to the threat of COVID-19.
“There will be a temporary travel ban on foreigners entering the country starting 12 a.m., 22 March 2020,” the DOTr said in advisory.
The move resulted from the issuance of DFA Foreign Circular No. 29-2020, which states that visa-free privileges including those based on Visa Waiver Agreements, those under Executive Order 408, s.1960, and for holders of Hong Kong and Macau SAR passports, Macau-Portuguese passports, and British National Overseas passports, are likewise temporarily suspended, effective March 22, 2020.
All previously issued visas will be canceled and foreigners possessing visas issued by the Philippine Foreign Service Posts, primarily Temporary Visitor/Tourist visas, will be denied entry to the Philippines starting March 22.
“Only OFWs, repatriating Filipinos, their foreign spouses and children (provided that the foreign spouse and children are traveling with the Filipino national), foreign government and international organization officials accredited to the Philippines, will be allowed to enter the country,” the DOTr said.
“OFWs, balikbayans, and foreign nationals leaving for abroad through any of the ports in Luzon shall be allowed at any time for the duration of the Enhanced Community Quarantine. Provided, that proof of international travel itinerary scheduled within twenty-four (24) hours must be presented. Departing Filipino tourists are temporarily not allowed to depart,” it said.
In Malacañang, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases guided the DFA in its decision.
“‘Yung pronouncement ni SFA [Teodoro Locsin Jr.] was based on mga data na prinovide ng IATF sa kanya,” Nograles told reporters when asked if Locsin's decision had the approval of the task force.
The IATF is the body supervising government efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The entire Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine at 12 midnight Tuesday, March 17, as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night.
Under this condition, strict home quarantine will be implemented in all households, transportation will be suspended, provision for food and essential health services will be regulated and the presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures will be heightened.
“Land, air and sea travel of uniformed personnel for official business, especially those transporting medical supplies, laboratory specimens related to the COVID-19, and other humanitarian assistance, shall be allowed,” the DOTr said.
“Sweeper flights for foreign nationals to bring them to airports will be allowed to continue operations,” it said.
Only one person is allowed to bring/fetch a passenger to the airport and he/she must depart immediately after picking up/dropping off said person, the Transportation department said.
“The driver should carry with him/her a copy of the airline ticket of the passenger as proof of conveyance,” it said. — with Virgil Lopez/RSJ, GMA News