MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for the countries under the Red List cannot still go out of the country amid the threat of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
The POEA said that even if OFWs have complete travel documents, they still cannot leave because there are no outbound international flights going to their employment destination.
POEA administrator Attorney Bernard Olalia stated that because inbound flights from counties under the Red List are banned, outbound flights going there are affected as well.
“At bilang nasa kategorya ng Red List countries, kanselado po lahat ng incoming international flights, at pagka kanselado po ang international incoming flights ay syempre wala ring outbound international flights,” he said.
Based on the resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases seven countries were added to the Red List were cases of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant which health authorities categorized as a variant of concern.
These countries are Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy.
Inbound flights from these countries were banned to prevent the entry of the said variant.
Olalia said that POEA will issue a labor advisory to OFWs affected by the travel ban to guide them on what action to take.
Meanwhile, OFWs from the Red List countries will be allowed to return to the Philippines via repatriation flights organized by the government, the Bayanihan Flights, and flights initiated by non-government organizations.
“Kapag galing po kayo sa ibang bansa na ganyan, at ito pong flight ninyo ay isang government-initiated flight, o kaya NGO-initiated flight, o kaya Bayanihan flight na in-arrange po ng POLO o DFA. Kayo po ay papayagan namang makalapag dito kapag kayo ay OFW,” Olalia said.
The POEA said OFWs who are interested to avail of the repatriation flights may coordinate with the Philippine Embassy for the availability of slots.
OFW passengers are required to undergo the 14-day mandatory facility-based quarantine, as well as, an RT-PCR testing on the 7th day upon arrival in the Philippines. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Aileen Cerrudo)