OFWs, foreign nationals allowed to fly out of PH

March 18, 2020

CNN PHILIPPINES — Overseas Filipino workers and foreign nationals are now allowed to leave the country anytime within the duration of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

Executive Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a press briefing of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Tuesday night that OFWs and foreigners are now permitted to fly out of the country. He added that Filipino tourists are not allowed to leave the country.

“Dahil ayaw natin bigyan ng pressure silang lahat dahil mas mahirap para sa kanila, in-open up na natin. Wala na ‘yong 72 hours,” Nograles said.

The government previously gave a 72-hour window to all outbound international flights, which was supposedly only until Friday.

However, Nograles said that the IATF reevaluated their decision hence the new advice. This is in consideration of the OFWs who need to go back to their employers abroad, according to him.

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

Apart from Luzon being under an “enhanced community quarantine,” President Rodrigo Duterte has also placed the entire country under a state of calamity Tuesday amid the coronavirus disease pandemic.

According to the Health Department, four more hospitals will start testing for COVID-19 starting this week and more testing kits are coming.

DOT welcomes lifting of ban

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has lauded the lifting of the travel ban on outbound passengers, except Filipino tourists, in line with the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

"The Department of Tourism welcomed the decision of the (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) (IATF-EID) to lift the 72-hour window for individuals departing overseas. DOT coordinated with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment to provide the joint guidelines for the lifting of the ban," the department said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Upon the updated guidelines, overseas Filipino workers, balikbayans, and foreign nationals will be allowed to leave at any time during the quarantine in Luzon, provided they travel only to the airport within 24 hours of the date and time of their departure.

Outgoing passengers are advised to provide documents of their departure, such as an electronic ticket or flight itinerary.

"Filipino citizens are strictly not allowed to take an outbound international flight to countries where travel restrictions are in place," the DOT said.

On transportation arrangements, outbound passengers may be accompanied by only one companion or driver to and from the airport.

Their companion is advised to carry a copy of the passenger’s e-ticket or itinerary.

Assistance to tourists

For tourists requiring assistance, a Tourism Airport Team is stationed at airports to provide them 24-hour service, including assistance in arranging flights, securing bookings, transportation, meals, and accommodation.

The DOT is in close collaboration with the local government unit (LGU) officers, local airport staff, and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

In the past few days, DOT regional offices have been proactive in informing tourism stakeholders, such as hotels, island resorts, tour operators, and LGUs to communicate the intensified travel restrictions of the enhanced community quarantine to foreign tourists in each destination, especially those in remote islands.
"The DOT is committed to working with all stakeholders, especially the LGUs and the IATF, in ensuring that the safety and the needs of our domestic and international tourists are addressed and resolved," Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
Hotels, except for those accommodating employees and front-liners exempted in the community quarantine, are not allowed to accept new bookings. With PNA