OFWs, foreigners can leave Philippines during COVID-19 lockdown, gov't says


Posted at Mar 18 2020 02:53 AM | Updated as of Mar 18 2020 01:34 PM

Hotels, other lodging allowed to accommodate existing bookings

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Filipino migrant workers and foreigners can travel abroad from Luzon during the "enhanced community quarantine" in the area, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Tuesday.

"OFWs and foreign nationals leaving for abroad shall be allowed to leave the Philippines anytime for the duration of the enhanced community quarantine, provided that proof of international travel itinerary scheduled within 24 hours must be presented," Nograles said in a press briefing.

Only one person is allowed to accompany a traveler bound for abroad, Nograles said. The driver should carry with him/her a copy of the airline ticket of the passenger as proof of conveyance, according to the Department of Transportation.

Filipino migrant workers also should be ferried to their respective airports and seaports by transport vehicles provided by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Nograles said.

Passengers from Italy and Iran are required to present medical certificates of good health to be validated by their respective embassies, the DOTr said.

Flights for the evacuation of stranded foreigners will be unhampered, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

"Foreign governments sending flights to pick up stranded nationals, DFA making sure no hitches. But if they miss the flights we lifted ban on travel to get of our country," Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a tweet.

"And for those who want to stay, welcome; don't worry about visa extension. Hotels can honor bookings made already."

Non-essential travel from any port of Luzon is suspended. Outbound movement to countries where travel restrictions are imposed due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, is also prohibited during the quarantine.

Hotels, hostels and similar establishments meanwhile are not allowed to operate during the quarantine, except those accommodating existing bookings as of Tuesday, March 17.

"No new booking accommodations shall be permitted," Nograles said. "Hotel operations shall be limited to the provision of basic lodging to guests."

Outbound passengers were previously given until March 19 to leave the Philippines after Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine by President Rodrigo Duterte to contain and stop the spread of COVID-19, which has infected more than 180 people in the country, and claimed 14 lives as of Tuesday.

Strict home quarantine and suspension of public transport were among the policies implemented during the lockdown.

All forms of travel to and from Luzon were also restricted except for those with official business, including transporters of basic goods and necessities, patrol of military and police personnel, commute of medical staff, and delivery of public health and humanitarian services.