MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday reminded airline companies to carefully check the documents of travelers prior to boarding, to ensure that only those allowed entry may fly to the Philippines.
The bureau issued the reminder after the Philippine government expanded the “Red” list of countries due to the looming threat of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) recently announced entry restrictions for inbound passengers coming from several areas in South Africa and seven countries in Europe that have reported cases of the new coronavirus variant.
The “Red” list now includes South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy. The new policy is effective from November 28 until December 15.
“We are conducting 100% passport inspection to ensure that we see the complete travel history of the arriving passengers,” BI Port Operations Division Chief Atty. Carlos Capulong said in a statement.
Capulong said passengers who are inadmissible but were allowed to board will be denied entry to the country and will warrant a penalty to the erring airline.
The IATF resolution stated that travelers, regardless of vaccination status, who are coming from or who have been to the Red List areas within the last 14 days prior to their arrival will not be allowed to enter the Philippines.
Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation and Bayanihan flights may be allowed entry. However, they will be subject to the prevailing entry, testing, and quarantine protocols for Red List territories.
Passengers already in transit and all those who have been to the said Red List areas within 14 days before their arrival to the Philippines, who arrive before 12:01 a.m. of November 30, 2021, shall not be subject to this restriction from entry.
“They shall nevertheless be required to undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days with testing on the 7th day, with day 1 being the date of arrival, notwithstanding a negative RT-PCR result,” the IATF said.
Passengers who have already arrived prior to November 28, and are currently undergoing quarantine pursuant to the classifications of their country of origin, shall complete their respective testing and quarantine protocols.
Passengers, whether Filipinos or foreigners, merely transiting through the Red List areas, will not be deemed as having come from these areas if they stayed in the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry into such country by its immigration authorities.
“Upon their arrival in the Philippines, passengers covered by the immediately preceding paragraph shall comply with existing testing and quarantine protocols,” the task force said.
The Philippine government also temporarily suspended the resolution providing for the entry of fully vaccinated nationals of non-visa required countries.
“For now, the current general travel restrictions stand. Only Filipinos, balikbayan, and those with long term visas from green and yellow list countries may be allowed entry,” the immigration bureau said.