Government lifts restrictions on non-essential travel

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Malacañang announced Tuesday the Philippines had lifted its ban on by Filipinos amid the COVID-19 crisis.

According to Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, the government’s COVID-19 task force decided on Monday.

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The task force also established protocols on the non-essential outbound travel of Filipinos.

Those traveling on tourist visas should submit confirmed roundtrip tickets and adequate travel health insurance to cover rebooking and accommodation expenses.

The guidelines also said the country of destination should also have no entry ban for Filipinos. The traveler is also mandated to execute a declaration acknowledging the risks in traveling. He or she should also comply with the government’s protocols for returning Filipinos, such as mandatory RT-PCR testing and quarantine.

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Just yesterday, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) reiterated that international travel for Filipino tourists is still restricted as the country continues to battle coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente released the statement after he received a report that six Filipino travelers were recently stopped from flying to Cambodia through a special chartered flight from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

According to reports, the passengers were barred since their travel abroad was considered non-essential. Their flight was not also under the category of travelers exempted from the travel ban while the whole country remains under community quarantine.

“We want to emphasize and reiterate that Filipinos are still prohibited from leaving the country unless they are overseas Filipino workers, holders of study visas, or permanent residents in the country of their destination,” the BI chief said.

Morente appealed to the public for understanding, adding that the Bureau of Immigration would continue to impose existing international travel restrictions until the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) eases these measures.

BI port operations acting chief Grifton Medina said the six passengers were offloaded from their flight last June 29. They said they would attend a business meeting on shrimp farming at Phnom Penh.

Reports said several incidents of Filipino tourists were barred from flying at the NAIA since the government implemented international travel restrictions when the pandemic started three months ago.

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