Philippines bars entry from 6 more countries due to threat of COVID-19 variant

January 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines (Updated Jan. 11, 2021, 1:13 p.m.) — The Duterte administration on Wednesday announced fresh travel restrictions to six more countries on top of the 20 nations it first halted entry to amid the threat of the new coronavirus variant.

Per Malacañang's new order Wednesday night, foreign travelers from Portugal, India, Finland, as well as Norway, Jordan and Brazil will no longer be allowed entry to the Philippines beginning January 8 until January 15.

Those arriving before January 8 would still be welcomed, but will be required to quarantine for two weeks despite a negative RT-PCR test result.

Filipinos who come from the said countries but are returning to Manila, however, would also be allowed entry, provided that they follow the prescribed quarantine period even if they tested negative for the deadly virus.

The said countries join the list of other areas where the Philippines has restricted travel:

  • Australia 
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong SAR
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Lebanon
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • The Netherlands
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Philippine health officials earlier today said the COVID-19 variant has not yet reached the country, after Hong Kong authorities reported a returning resident who tested positive and had come from Manila.

Still, experts have stressed that the public should not let their guard down, as the more infectious variant could lead to another spike in cases and raise anew the possibility of a return to hard lockdowns that have hurt the economy badly.

Palace has said too that unaccompanied Filipino minors coming from countries with travel restrictions would not be given entry until January 15, except minors returning through its repatriation programs.

They will, in turn, be turned over to social welfare officials for ensuring their safety and in following quarantine measures.

Government has said that it would regularly update the list of nations covered in its travel restrictions. 

It came nearly a year since it faced criticism for rejecting a travel ban of tourists from China that eventually led to the country's first COVID-19 case, a woman from Wuhan, where the virus originated.

The coronavirus task force has also put up a technical working group led by Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire for monitoring and identifying new variants and providing policy proposals.

Experts from DOH-TAG, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health, PGC and EpiMetrics comprise the group.

Health officials have said that they are in talks with their counterparts in Hong Kong following the development. — with reports from Gaea Katreena Cabico

As It Happens

LATEST UPDATE: January 12, 2021 - 1:17pm

Find the latest travel and tourism news from around the world amid the coronavirus pandemic. Main image by AFP/Romeo Gacad

January 12, 2021 - 1:17pm

China, Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxembourg and Oman are now included in the Philippines' list of countries/jurisdictions subject to travel restrictions due to the new COVID-19 variant.

The inter-agency task force on COVID-19 recommends that foreign travelers from these areas will be barred from entering the country from January 13 to 15.

January 11, 2021 - 2:34pm

Young adults dressed to the nines in kimonos gathered at venues in Japan on Monday to celebrate reaching the age of majority, although many of the usually jubilant events were cancelled over coronavirus fears.

More than a million people in Japan turn 20 this year, the age at which they can legally drink alcohol, smoke and get married without parental approval.

They are traditionally feted each January on "coming-of-age day" with a formal ceremony, originally a rite of ancient samurai families — and now often followed by raucous drinking sprees.

But a record surge in COVID-19 cases and a month-long virus state of emergency declared in and around Tokyo has led many local authorities to scrap or postpone the 2021 festivities. — AFP

January 8, 2021 - 8:13am

England is to introduce mandatory coronavirus testing for all international arrivals in a bid to curb the spread of new virus variants, the department of transport says.

Beginning early next week, all international travellers to England will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken up to 72 hours prior to their departure, the ministry said.

Those passengers who do not comply with the regulations, which also apply to British nationals, face a £500 ($678, €552) fine. — AFP

January 6, 2021 - 7:24pm

Upon the joint recommendation of the DOH and DFA, the Office of the President added more countries in the travel ban list over the new COVID-19 variant, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says.

These include Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan and Brazil.

Foreign passengers who have been to these areas within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines will be prohibited from entering the country from January 8 to 15. —  report from Alexis Romero

January 1, 2021 - 3:31pm

The US is now included in countries subject to travel restrictions to prevent the entry of the the new COVID-19 strain into the Philippines, News5 quotes presidential spokesperson Harry Roque as saying.

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