Know The Latest Travel Bans Resulting From The COVID-19 Outbreak
Check out this list of destinations with imposed travel bans and avoid the risk of getting stranded somewhere because of a travel restriction or quarantine
As of this month, the Philippine government has imposed travel bans on arrivals from the following countries: China, its Special Administrative Regions, namely Hong Kong and Macau, and certain regions of South Korea, specifically from the North Gyeongsang Province, including Daegu City and Cheongdo County. The travel ban covers all travelers and passengers entering the country via aircrafts and sea vessels coming from the above-mentioned locations.
Exempted from the said travel ban are:
- Filipino citizens, including their foreign spouses and children;
- Permanent Resident Visa holders; and
- Diplomatic Visa holders
Persons falling under the exemptions are required to undergo the 14-day quarantine mandated by the Department of Health.
Does this also mean Filipinos can’t travel to these places?
The travel ban primarily restricts arrivals into the country, as an effort to control the entry of people who may be infected by COVID-19, and thus, manage transmission. However, various rules apply in terms of Filipinos traveling out of the country, depending on their destination.
Filipinos traveling to other regions of South Korea (aside from the North Gyeongsang Province) are allowed to leave the country. This means that should you want to push through with your South Korea trip, you will be able to do so, provided you present a signed declaration stating that you are aware of the risks involved in proceeding with your planned travel. But take note that visa-free entry to Jeju Island for all foreign nationals has been temporarily suspended.
Also allowed to leave the country for South Korea, Hong Kong, and Macau are:
- Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs);
- students enrolled in the countries with imposed travel bans; and
- returning Filipinos and their families who have Permanent Resident Status in these three destinations.
Any traveler leaving the country for these destinations must present a signed declaration stating their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved in proceeding with their travel plans.
For newly-hired OFWs, aside from their signed declaration, they must also obtain and present a signed form from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) allowing them to leave the country for overseas work.
Where are Filipinos restricted from traveling to?
At the moment, most of the travel bans imposed by other nations are focused on arrivals of visitors from countries with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, namely China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy.
A travel advisory courtesy of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) states that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced that visa issuance for tourism purposes and for Umrah have been suspended indefinitely. The said travel ban, however, allows entry to OFWs and visa holders who are traveling there for official business and to visit family.
Qatar has also imposed a temporary entry restriction to travelers entering Doha from 14 countries, including the Philippines. According to the State of Qatar’s Government Communications Office statement, “The decision affects all individuals intending to enter from these countries, including visas upon arrival, those with a residence or work permit, and temporary visitors.” What this means is that tourists and OFWs returning to Qatar will not be allowed entry into Qatar. It is unclear how travelers arriving in Doha for a layover from the Philippines or any of the 13 other countries will be affected.
The Kuwaiti government has temporarily suspended flights between Kuwait and seven countries, namely, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Syria, and the Philippines, for one week, beginning March 6. In line with this, any foreign national traveling from or has been to any of these seven countries are banned from entering Kuwait.
Stranded Filipinos in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, and Qatar should get in touch with the nearest Philippine Embassy for assistance regarding their return travel back to the Philippines.
The DFA also advises Filipinos with plans to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to “postpone their trips until further notice,” in light of the Palestinian Authority’s temporary travel ban on the entry of all tourists coming into the West Bank, which includes Bethlehem and Jericho.
Presently, other countries which have imposed travel bans to tourists who have been to or are coming from countries affected by COVID-19 including the Philippines are Cook Islands, North Korea, and Marshall Islands. Other countries that require a medical clearance and a 14-day quarantine for arrivals from the Philippines are the French Polynesia and Solomon Islands.
This status may change as more confirmed cases of COVID-19 are discovered in the country. The Department of Health has been working closely with local agencies in contact tracing and managing these reported cases of the virus in the metro. What is important is that we observe proper hygiene so as to minimize the spread of the virus, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and most importantly, don't panic.
For a more detailed list of travel restrictions and temporary travel bans, the International Air Transport Association's Travel Centre (IATA) frequently updates its "Coronavirus Outbreak" page here.
Main photo from @scmpnews.
*This is a developing story.