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Philippines expands travel restrictions to more countries amid Omicron threat

By Brooke Villanueva Published Nov 29, 2021 12:11 pm

The Philippines has put more countries in the “red list”—which contains “high-risk” areas for COVID-19—until Dec. 15 due to the threat of the new Omicron variant.

After banning seven African countries from entering the Philippines, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has added seven more European countries namely Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy to the aforementioned list. 

“Inbound international travel of all persons, regardless of vaccination status, coming from or who have been to red list countries/jurisdictions/territories within the last 14 days prior to arrival to any port of the Philippines shall not be allowed,” Cabinet Secretary and acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a statement.

Filipinos who are coming back to the Philippines via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation and “Bayanihan” flights may enter the country “subject to the prevailing entry, testing, and quarantine protocols for red list countries/jurisdictions/territories."

Individuals who will not be subject to restrictions, meanwhile, include those who are in transit and who have been to the red list areas within 14 days immediately prior to their arrival in the Philippines and who arrive before 12:01 a.m. of Nov. 30. “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,” said Nograles. 

Those who arrived before Nov. 28 and are currently undergoing quarantine pursuant to the classifications of their country of origin need to complete their testing and quarantine protocols. 

Additionally, passengers from Hong Kong are required to comply with testing and quarantine protocols for “yellow list” areas. Inbound HK flights are still allowed, according to the National Task Force against COVID-19. “We await the formal announcement from the IATF following a final recommendation from the Technical Working Group on COVID-19 Variants and other agencies,” the NTF said. 

The World Health Organization has declared Omicron “a variant of concern,” putting it under the previous COVID-19 variants that include Delta, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma.