MANILA (UPDATE) - Far from the pre-New Year’s Eve hustle and bustle in previous years, the arrival area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 (T3) seemed like a “ghost town” on Wednesday afternoon, as government imposed a fresh wave of travel restriction on several territories in light of the new “more contagious” coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom.
Only 8 flights were scheduled to arrive at T3 on Wednesday, including a United Airlines flight from Guam.
Presidential and inter-agency task force on infectious diseases spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said the United States was the latest to be included in areas the Philippines was imposing travel restrictions on as precaution against the new COVID-19 virus variant.
Roque later backtracked from his statement, saying the US is not included in the travel ban.
Philippine health chief Francisco Duque III earlier said the US will be included in the travel restriction as local experts continue to assess whether the new coronavirus variant has entered the Philippines.
“Any country that has reported the new UK variant will be subject to the temporary ban,” he said.
On Wednesday (Manila time), the US reported its first case of the new variant.
Before Dec. 25, a travel restriction was imposed against travelers from the United Kingdom.
This was later expanded to include foreign travelers coming from, or transiting through, the following territories, or who have traveled to these places 14 days before their scheduled arrival in the Philippines, effective 12:01 a.m. of December 30 until January 15, 2021:
- The Netherlands
- Hong Kong, SAR
- South Korea
- South Africa
Philippine nationals arriving from these areas on the specified period shall take an RT-PCR test upon arrival, and undergo the required 2-week quarantine.
They need to submit a duly filled-up Health Declaration Form upon deplaning. Returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) need to fill out the Project Care Slip.
They are then briefed on COVID-19 by the Philippine Coast Guard, and thereafter are asked to present the QR code earlier sent to them to the verification and barcoding booth at the terminal.
They are given 6 barcode stickers, one of which must be placed on the back of their passports.
They then proceed to the swab test booth for their free RT-PCR test, and hand the remaining 5 barcode stickers to the tester.
After submitting the Arrival Card and clearing with immigration, they proceed to the following desks for their quarantine hotel assignments:
-Department of Tourism desk for non-OFWs
-Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) desk for land-based OFWs and dependents
-Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) desk for sea-based OFWs
The arriving Philippine nationals exit the terminal and board their designated shuttle/bus after clearing with Customs Check.
After completing the mandatory two-week quarantine and obtaining clearance to go home, non-OFWs should arrange for their own transportation.
Land-based OFWS may directly coordinate with OWWA or access the agency’s OWWA Uwian Na portal at https://uwianna.owwa.gov.ph for their transportation needs.
Sea-based OFWs may coordinate with their local manning agencies.
International passenger arrivals from the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) from March, when government began imposing lockdowns as a measure against the spread of the coronavirus, up to November stood at 234,994.
This figure is a far cry from the 722,692 total international arrivals during the first two months of the year.
No data is available as of yet on the December arrivals.
Total international arrivals from January-November 2020 is at 957,586, way below than the 4,935,361 arrivals in the same period last year.
In December 2019, NAIA-T3 recorded 535,477 international arrivals, bringing the total for 2019 to 5,431,007.