Philippine gov’t lifts 72-hour window for outbound flights

The 72-hour deadline for international travelers to leave the Philippines has been lifted, the government announced on Wednesday, March 18.

The updated announcement from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will allow overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), balikbayans, and foreigners to leave the country through any of the ports in Luzon at any time during the “enhanced community quarantine” period, provided they travel only to the airport within 24 hours of the date and time of their departure.

“OFWs, balikbayans, and foreigners leaving for abroad through any of the ports in Luzon shall be allowed to leave the Philippines at any time for the duration of the enhanced community quarantine, provided that proof of international travel itinerary scheduled within 24 hours must be presented,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles confirmed on Wednesday.

The Philippine Department of Transportation on Tuesday had previously given international airports in the country a 72-hour window to accommodate foreigners seeking to leave the Philippines, after which all gateways from the mainland will be closed in compliance with the enhanced community quarantine enforced in Luzon.

Under the new guidelines, Nograles said that departing passengers are allowed to be accompanied by only one person to any international port, who should depart immediately after dropping off the passenger.

The accompanying person must also carry a copy of the e-ticket or itinerary.

Nograles added that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration “may provide transportation services to OFWs intending to leave for abroad.”

“This provision shall not be interpreted to allow outbound travel by Filipinos to jurisdictions where travel restrictions are in place,” he stressed.

Inbound international passengers, meanwhile, are allowed entry, subject to strict immigration and quarantine protocols.

Filipino tourists, however, are barred from leaving the country.

The previous travel restrictions for arriving passengers remain in place.

“Our travel restrictions for foreign nationals arriving from China, Hong Kong, Macau, North Gyeongsang including Daegu and Cheongdo of South Korea, Iran, and Italy still stand,” announced Philippine Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, March 16, placed Luzon on an “enhanced community quarantine” to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Philippines.

Airlines such as Philippine Airlines, AirAsia, and Cebu Pacific all announced the cancellation of their flights in support of government regulations addressing the COVID-19 outbreak.

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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