PH to suspend entry of foreigners, non-OFW returnees starting March 20

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 | photo

IN an attempt to curb the rising cases of COVID-19 and its variants in the country, the Philippine government is temporarily barring the entry of foreign nationals and Filipinos.

The National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF COVID-19) on Tuesday, March 16, released a memorandum announcing that the travel ban would start on Saturday, March 20, and end on April 19.

Exempted from the travel restrictions are the following:
• holders of 9(e) visas
• medical repatriation and their escort/s duly endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)
• distressed returning overseas Filipinos duly endorsed by the DFA and the OWWA
• emergency, humanitarian and other analogous cases approved by the NTF COVID-19

Earlier, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) also implemented a cap on inbound arrivals at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Incoming international flights would be allowed to carry only 1,500 passengers per day from March 18 to April 18.

“By and large wala naman po pagkakaiba, 2 araw lang po ‘yan pero ang motive po ng pareho circular na ito ay ‘yung paghihigpit ng pagpasok ng ating bansa para mapababa ang bilang ng may sakit na COVID-19 at mga bagong variant na nakukuha natin (By and large, there’s no difference, it’s just 2 days. The motive of both circulars is to tighten the entry to our country to lower the number of COVID-19 cases and those with new variants),” NTF spokesperson Ret. Gen. Restituto Padilla told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.

For its part, flag carrier Philippine Airlines announced that it would be cancelling several flights to and from Manila following CAB’s directive.

“To comply with the restriction, airlines will need to cancel a number of international flights to and from Manila during the stated March 18 to April 19 period. 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,” the airline said in a post on Facebook.

“Airlines will likewise comply with any directives from the Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI) and concerned authorities on the type of travelers that will be allowed entry into the Philippines within the same March 18 (8 AM) to April 19 (8 AM) period.

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

To date, there are a total of 635,698 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with 12,866 fatalities and 561,099 recoveries.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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