Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente announced that the travel restrictions for arriving passengers who have been to the United Kingdom (UK) in the last 14 days have been extended.
According to Morente, as directed by President Rodrigo Duterte in last night’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) meeting, flights from the UK remain banned for two more weeks after December 31, 2020.
“Consequently, all passengers who have been to the UK in the last 14 days prior to arrival in the country are still restricted entry until January 14, 2021,” said Morente.
The ban follows news of a new strain of Covid-19 in the UK, which is reportedly 70% more infectious.
In related news, the BI vowed to expedite the Implementing Rules and Regulations for Executive Order No. 122 of the President on Strengthening Border Control Through the Adoption and Implementation of the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS).
The BI was initially given 60 days from the publication of EO 122 last December 15, but Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra recommended its immediate implementation to allow the BI to better trace origins and connecting flights.
BI to implement extended UK travel restrictions
“The API system is very timely, as apart from protecting the country from aliens with derogatory records, it would allow us to deny the boarding of passengers who have a travel history to the UK in the last 14 days, instead of having to detect them upon arrival in the country,” said Morente.
The APIS is an electronic communications system that collects biographic data on passenger or crew, which is transmitted to the BI prior to arrival, and allows for early vetting on the admissibility of an arriving alien.
Currently, the BI is implementing a strict 100% passport inspection to determine the travel history of arriving passengers in the last 14 days.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said this Sunday that the government will strengthen the country’s capacity for “biogenomic surveillance” to diagnose viruses in the country.
Experts also explained that mutations in viruses, living organisms that change and adapt to the environment, are normal.
In the case of the UK variant, it seems to transmit faster but there is no solid basis for it to be deadly.