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Here’s How The Travel Ban Impacts Filipino And Foreign Travelers

The Philippine government imposed an extended temporary travel ban on any part of China, Hong Kong and Macau, as a response to the coronavirus outbreak. But how will this affect travelers?

Three days after the first confirmed case of coronavirus in the country was announced, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo gave a statement that the President has extended the temporary travel ban to include “all visitors coming from any part of China, Hong Kong, and Macau.” Not long after, news about the first coronavirus death outside of China broke. The patient, a 44-year-old male and companion of the 38-year-old woman confirmed as having the virus, is the second person confirmed as having the coronavirus in the Philippines.


In summary, the temporary travel ban:

  • - Covers all foreign visitors, of any nationality, coming into the country from any part of China, Hong Kong, and Macau
  • - Includes all foreign visitors to the Philippines who have had travel history in China, Hong Kong, and Macau 14 days before their arrival in the country
    - Exempts Filipino citizens and permanent resident visa holders issued by the Philippine government
- Requires Filipino residents and permanent resident visa holders to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine
- Includes the establishment of a repatriation and quarantine facility


Simply put, the temporary travel ban restricts entry into the Philippines for any foreigner who has come from China, Hong Kong, and Macau—unlike the previous travel ban imposed which only restricts entry to visitors from Wuhan.


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While the travel ban may have eased worry for some, it brings to light other concerns for travelers. Let’s try to understand the implications of this travel ban with this Q&A:


I will be going to the Philippines from Hong Kong/Macau/any city in China. Will I be allowed entry to the Philippines?

If you are foreign national, you will not be allowed entry into the Philippines. Instead, you will be asked to return to the destination you came from prior to the Philippines. If you are a Filipino resident or a permanent resident visa holder, you will be allowed entry to the Philippines, but you will be required to follow the mandatory 14-day quarantine stated in the travel ban. 


What about if I will be going to the Philippines from a country not included in the ban, but I have previously traveled to one of the three? Will I be allowed entry to the Philippines? 

If you are foreign national, you will be allowed entry into the Philippines only if you have not been to any of the three destinations within 14 days before your arrival to the Philippines. Otherwise, if you have traveled to China, Hong Kong, or Macau within the last 14 days prior to your arrival in the Philippines, then you will not be allowed entry to the Philippines, or may not even be allowed to board your flight to the Philippines.


If you are a Filipino citizen or have a permanent resident visa issued by the Philippine government, then you will be allowed back to the Philippines, but with the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine.


I will be traveling back to the Philippines from a trip which only has a layover in Hong Kong (or China or Macau). Will I be restricted from entering the Philippines?

If you are a foreign national, then yes. You will be asked to take a flight back to Hong Kong or wherever your original destination was.


If you are a Filipino citizen or permanent resident visa holder, then you are allowed to enter the country. You are still required to undergo the mandatory quarantine for 14-days.


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What is the mandatory 14-day quarantine?

Filipino citizens and permanent resident visa holders are subject to a 14-day self-quarantine, where they will be monitored by epidemiology experts who will check on them twice a day through phone calls. At the moment, there is yet to be an established quarantine facility, so Filipino citizens and permanent residents are required to self-quarantine at home.


Does the travel ban only cover visitors coming into the Philippines?

No. The travel ban also temporarily restricts Filipinos from traveling to any part of China, Hong Kong, and Macau.


Until when will the travel ban be?

The travel ban is temporary, but the government has yet to set a specific date when it will be lifted.


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I have an upcoming flight to Macau (or Hong Kong or China). What should I do?

You may opt to cancel or reschedule your flight. At the moment, several airlines have already reduced their flights from Manila to China and back, and have waived penalty fees for rebooking the said flights. Some airlines have also offered refunds for passengers with flights to China and other destinations affected by the coronavirus outbreak.


On the other hand, if you must fly to China, Hong Kong, or Macau, you may opt to fly to these destinations via another country which has no travel ban on the said countries. For instance, you may fly to Cambodia, then proceed to China, Hong Kong or Macau, as it has not imposed any travel ban among the said nations. But a caveat: You will be subject to the restrictions imposed by the travel ban upon your return to the Philippines.


I need to travel to another country, but I have a connecting flight to Hong Kong (or Macau or another city in China). What do I do?

It is best to contact your airline regarding the status of your original flight, as you may be redirected to a different city for a stopover.


Which other countries have imposed a travel ban on China?

At the moment, seven countries have imposed a travel restrictions to and from mainland China, namely: the United States, Australia, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Israel, Taiwan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia, Italy, and the Philippines. However, travel restrictions vary per country.


What happens if I travel to another country where there is a travel ban because of the coronavirus?

It would depend on the existing travel advisories or restrictions imposed on the country you are traveling to. It is advised that you inquire with the airline, ship or carrier that you will be using if there are any changes to your travel itinerary or any travel advisories in place that would affect your trip. The World Health Organization (WHO) has released its advice on the screening of passengers at entry/exit ports for countries with confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV.


At the moment, most countries that have imposed travel bans have restricted entry to primarily to Chinese nationals or Chinese passport holders. It is best to keep yourself updated if there will be any restrictions placed on travelers from other nationalities and countries (aside from China) with reported cases of coronavirus.


Should you have any upcoming trips, keep in mind that many countries are imposing stringent rules on foreigners entering their borders as a response to the outbreak. Thus, it is advised that traveling to nations affected by the coronavirus be kept to a minimum, and only for essential travel—at least for the meantime.


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