MANILA - The Philippines will temporarily close its borders to foreigners starting March 22 as the Southeast Asian country battles a renewed surge in COVID-19 cases and increasing infections of new variants.
The National Task Force against COVID-19, however, revised its earlier memo and is now allowing all Filipino citizens including non-overseas Filipino workers to enter the country.
NTF spokesman Restituto Padilla said returning OFWs must still comply with existing immigration laws. "Pagbalik ng ating mga kababayan, sila ay didiretso sa isang quarantine facility," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, adding that returning Pinoys must take an RT-PCR test after 6 days.
In the revised memo, entry of foreign nationals to the Philippines is suspended from March 22-April 21.
The following are exempted from the ban:
- Diplomats and members of international organizations and their dependents provided they hold a valid 9(e) visa or 47(a)(2) visa
- Foreign nationals involved in medical repatriation duty endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration
- Foreign seafarers under the Green Lanes program for crew change
- Foreign spouses and children of Filipino citizens traveling with them provided they have valid visas
- Emergency, humanitarian and other analogous cases approved by the chairperson of the NTF COVID-19 or his duly authorized representative
The new memo on international travel also states that the 1,500/day limit for international inbound passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport remains.
The Philippines on Thursday reported 5,290 new coronavirus infections, the second highest daily tally this year, bringing the country's total number of cases to 640,984.
The OCTA Research Group this week projected that if the current trend continues, new coronavirus cases in the Philippines can reach up to 11,000 daily.