Despite the growing number of coronavirus infections due to the Covid-19 Delta variant, the Philippines would lift the restrictions imposed on inbound travelers from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), India, and eight other countries starting Monday.
President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the pandemic task force’s recommendation to ease the current travel restrictions in the 10 countries — which also included Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Oman, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia — all of which have been placed on the travel ban list for months.
However, international travelers from the said countries should comply with the appropriate entry, testing, and quarantine protocols set by the government depending on where they came from, presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said.
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) categorized the countries through green, yellow, and red lists based on their Covid-19 incidence and testing data.
Previously, the Philippines only had a green list of countries. Fully vaccinated travelers coming from these areas would undergo a seven-day facility-based quarantine upon arrival, shorter than the required 14 days.
These included American Samoa, Anguilla, Australia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Chad, China, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Falkland Islands, Gabon, Grenada and Hong Kong.
Also included among green countries were Hungary, Mali, Federated States of Micronesia, Montserrat, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niger, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Poland, Saba, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Sierra Leone, Sint Eustatius, Slovakia and Taiwan.
Meanwhile, yellow list countries were classified as “moderate risk” areas for Covid-19, while “red” countries were “high risk.” Malacañang has yet to release the red or yellow lists at press time.
The task force said travelers from yellow territories or countries should complete a 10-day facility quarantine then another four-day home isolation.
They also have to undergo swab tests on the seventh day of quarantine.
“The foregoing shall be subject to special protocols approved by the IATF or the Office of the President for certain classes of travelers or ports of origin,” Roque added.
On the other hand, travelers from the countries under red list — except for repatriates via government-initiated repatriation, non-government-initiated repatriation, and Bayanihan flights — were not allowed to enter the Philippine territory.
The entry protocols for travelers from the yellow List would also apply to repatriates from the red countries, jurisdictions, and territories, Roque said.
Thousands of stranded overseas Filipino workers had anticipated the lifting of the ban imposed on 10 countries cited by the task force.
In the UAE, host to around 650,000 Filipinos, thousands who wanted to come home faced expiring work contracts and overstaying woes.
The government imposed strict border controls in the said countries due to the persisting threat of the Delta variant.
First detected in India, the virus type raised concern among health experts worldwide since it was found to be more transmissible than the variant first identified in the United Kingdom and would likely cause hospitalization among those infected.
The country also reported Covid-19 variants first detected in the United Kingdom and in South Africa, as well as a homegrown P3 variant.