Tourist departures remain low despite lifting of travel restrictions – BI

Robie de Guzman   •   October 22, 2020   •   297

MANILA, Philippines – The number of departing Filipino tourists has yet to pick up despite the easing of departure restrictions and allowing non-essential outbound travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Thursday.

The BI said only 95 out of a total of 1,172 Filipinos departed the country under a tourist visa as of Wednesday, slightly higher than the 64 who left the same day last week when only essential travel was allowed.

“It could mean that Filipinos still feel hesitant to travel internationally during the pandemic,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.

Morente, however, expects the number to increase during the holiday season.

The BI chief also stressed that arrival restrictions remain in place.

“We are monitoring any policy change set by the IATF (Inter-Agency Tas Force) and the Office of the President, and we are ready to implement these as they may deem fit,” he said.

The IATF earlier said non-essential outbound travel of Filipinos will be allowed starting Oct. 21 following certain requirements.

These requirements include the submission of confirmed roundtrip tickets, and adequate travel and health insurance. Departing tourists should also execute a declaration acknowledging risks involved in traveling and must present negative antigen test result taken within 24 hours before their departure.

Currently, only Filipinos, their spouse and minor children are allowed to enter the country holding tourist visas. Restrictions likewise allow foreign children with special needs of Filipinos, foreign parent of minor Filipinos, and foreign parent of Filipino children with special needs to enter the country.

Those who are eligible to enter are required to secure an entry visa from Philippine embassies or consulates, prior to their arrival.

Apart from said categories, accredited foreign government and international organization officials and their dependents, foreign airline crewmembers, foreign seafarers with 9(c) visas, and foreigners with long-term visas are also allowed.

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Duterte to attend virtual UN General Assembly on COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to participate in the 31st Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic from December 3 to 4, Malacañang said Thursday.

The Palace said Duterte is expected to deliver the Philippine Statement on December 3, where he will further amplify his call for global solidarity in addressing the challenges posed by the COVID-19.

The president is also expected to raise universal access to the anti-COVID-19 technologies, as well as the need for global efforts to ensure the availability of safe and effective vaccines to peoples of developing nations.

During the 75th UNGA session last September, Duterte also said that COVID-19 vaccines “must not be denied nor withheld,” and that “it should be made available to all, rich and poor nations alike, as a matter of policy.” – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Unemployment rate in October 2020 eases to 8.7% —PSA

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 3, 2020

The unemployment rate in October 2020 eases to 8.7%, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

From April 2020, with a 17.6% unemployment rate, the number of unemployed Filipinos continued to drop to 10% in July and 8.7% in October. This is equivalent to 3.8 million Filipinos, 15 years old and above, who are unemployed.

With several establishments reopening after strict lockdowns due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), several Filipinos were able to find jobs during the last quarter of the year.

Meanwhile, the underemployment rate also droppedd to 14.4% this October, compared to 17.3%t last July.

The PSA said the economy is gradually recovering as lockdowns continue to ease. -AAC

Minors in NCR still barred outdoors except for exercise, essential purposes – MMDA

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Thursday said that Metro Manila mayors have agreed to still prohibit minors from going outdoors amid the threat of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

MMDA general manager Jojo Garcia said Metro Manila mayors unanimously agreed to disallow minors from entering commercial establishments and other outdoor areas such as shopping malls.

“Unanimous po ano, 17-0 na Mayors will not allow minors to go out. That’s why yung ating GCQ guidelines na 18 to 65, yun pa din yung papayagang lumabas,” he said.

Garcia said they came up with the decision after meeting with health experts, including the Philippine Pediatric Society and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines.

“Because of having high immune system, pediatrics experts said that minors who are infected with COVID-19 are usually asymptomatic carriers of the virus. They might be transmitting the virus unknowingly, especially to those vulnerable,” he said.

“Persons aged 18-65 years old are the only ones allowed to go inside malls in Metro Manila,” he added.

Garcia, however, said that essential activities done inside the malls such as medical and dental check-ups, buying of food, and medicines are allowed for all ages, including minors and senior citizens “as long as the minimum health protocols such as wearing of face mask and face shield and observing of physical distancing are strictly observed.”

Minors are also allowed to do non-contact sports such as biking and jogging, subject to interpretation of local government units through their respective existing ordinances, he added.

Garcia said that both the mall owners and the LGUs have the responsibility to ensure that no minors will be allowed to go inside their establishments and other outdoor areas amid enforcement of quarantine protocols. The imposition of penalties will also depend on the LGUs according to existing directives.

The Department of Health earlier insisted that minors aged 14 and below, as well as senior citizens aged 66 and above, should still not be allowed to go out due to the risk of contracting COVID-19. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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