The inter-agency task force, IATF, leads the COVID-19 response for the Philippine government. The IATF has new set conditions on the entry of foreign travelers into the country next month, Malacañang (the Presidential Palace) said on Friday, January 29, 2020.

Balikbayan Privilege Still in Effect

The IATF, which met on Thursday, said foreign nationals who will arrive in the Philippines from Feb. 1 “should have valid and existing visas at the time of entry, except for those qualified under the Balikbayan program under Republic Act No. 6768 or the Act Instituting the Balikbayan Program,” said Palace spokesperson Harry Roque.

The Balikbayan Privilege (Visa) allows foreign spouses of Filipinos/Filipinas to enter the Philippines (have your certified marriage contract or copy thereof with you.)

“These foreign nationals should also have a pre-booked accommodation for at least seven nights in an accredited quarantine hotel or facility,” he said in a statement.

“They shall also be subject to COVID-19 testing at the quarantine hotel or facility on the sixth day from the date of their arrival,” Roque added.

Previously, COVID-19 testing was done upon the traveler’s arrival. However, some traveler’s tested negative upon arrival but showed up as positive for the coronavirus days later.

The entry of these foreign nationals “will be subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry,” said Roque.

Inbound travelers “still need to complete their 14-day quarantine,” he added.

With reporting from ABS CBN NEWS

Ban of Foreign Travelers from Restricted Country to End

Furthermore, ABS CBN also reported a ban on the entry of foreign travelers that was meant to halt the spread of a new, more contagious COVID-19 variant will “lapse” on Jan. 31, 2021.

Implemented in December 2020, the ban was gradually expanded to cover over 30 countries that had reported the new variant.

The new variant is nearly 70 percent more transmissible than the original Covid-19 variant. However, there is no evidence yet that it is deadlier than the previous coronavirus variant.

“The [travel] restriction remains until January 31, 2021 and would lapse after the aforesaid date,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

Foreigners who have tourist visas are still prohibited from entering the country, he said in a statement.

Metro Manila to Remain Under Restrictive Lockdown

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also announced on Friday that Metro Manila will extend its general community quarantine (GCQ) status anew for the entire month of February. That’s according to a breaking news report from CNN Philippines.

The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) will also be under GCQ as most of the UK variant cases in the country are in the northern region.

Batangas, Tacloban City, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, and Iligan City will also be under GCQ until the end of February.

GCQ is the third most stringent quarantine classification in the country.

The National Capital Region has been under GCQ since June 2020, excluding its return to a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine or MECQ during the first half of August.

The rest of the country will be under modified GCQ, the lowest form of community quarantine.

On Monday night, the President reversed the IATF’s earlier decision to allow children aged 10 to 14 to go out of their homes in MGCQ areas starting February further stifling the economic recovery of the Philippines.

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