Philippines Quaratine covid-19 clark cebu mactan airport
The shortened quarantine period of 7 days previously covered only persons who were fully vaccinated in the Philippines. Now, it also applies to those who can prove they had taken the required shots overseas, a senior official said. Image Credit: Jay Hilotin / Gulf News

Highlights

  • Philippines issued list of "green" states Wednesday, June 30, 2021.
  • Manila has eased travel restrictions for people fully vaccinated in other countries.
  • A proof of vaccination must be presented to authorities.

If you’re already fully vaccinated outside the Philippines and flying into the Asian country, then you will be allowed to fly, a new rule easing quarantine rules states. A mandatory 7-day quarantine will be required upon landing — and only if you spent 14 days in “green countries” immediately before the flight, a new rule issued Tuesday by Manila states. The list of 'green states' was also issued on Wednesday. Following are the latest updates:

What’s new with this rule?

The shortened quarantine period of 7 days previously covered only persons who were fully vaccinated in the Philippines. Now, it also applies to those who can prove they had taken the required COVID-19 shots overseas, a senior official said. “To those who received full vaccination outside the Philippines, you need to bring the official documents stating you were already vaccinated,” Harry Roque said in Filipino in an online press briefing Tuesday, June 29, 2021. The list of green states was announced Wednesday, June 30, 2021. The new rule kicks in July 1, 2021.

To whom does the rule apply?

To be allowed to fly, inbound travellers should have stayed the past 14 days exclusively in “green” states or territories — those that are considered “low-risk” based on their COVID-19 disease incidence rate, as defined by Philippine authorities.

What are the “green" countries or states?

The list of "green states", released June 30, 2021 by the Inter-Agency Task Force which has identified for "low-risk" countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic, includes the following:

  1. Albania
  2. American Samoa
  3. Anguilla
  4. Antigua and Barbuda
  5. Australia
  6. Benin
  7. Belize
  8. The British Virgin Islands
  9. Brunei
  10. Burkina Faso
  11. Burundi
  12. Cayman Islands
  13. Chad
  14. China
  15. Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
  16. Eswatini
  17. Falkland Islands
  18. French Polynesia
  19. Gambia
  20. Ghana
  21. Greenland
  22. Grenada
  23. Hong Kong
  24. Iceland
  25. Isle of Man
  26. Israel
  27. Laos
  28. Liberia
  29. Malawi
  30. Malta
  31. Marshall Islands
  32. Mauritius
  33. Micronesia
  34. Montserrat
  35. Morocco
  36. Mozambique
  37. New Caledonia
  38. New Zealand
  39. Niger
  40. Nigeria
  41. Northern Mariana Islands
  42. Palau
  43. Rwanda
  44. Saba
  45. Saint Barthelemy
  46. Saint Kitts and Nevis
  47. Saint Pierre and Miquelon
  48. Sierra Leone
  49. Senegal
  50. Singapore
  51. Sint Eustatius
  52. South Korea
  53. Taiwan
  54. Togo
  55. Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)
  56. Vietnam
  57. Zimbabwe

What are the existing travel restrictions?

Travellers departing from or who have been to the following countries in the past 14 days before scheduled arrival are not allowed to enter the Philippines until June 30, 2021:

  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Nepal
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • United Arab Emirates

This is the fourth time that travel restrictions were imposed on the seven countries to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible Delta coronavirus variant that first emerged in India.

Health Undersecretary and Spokesperson Rosario Vergeire earlier told Philippine media that the government decided to retain the ban on the seven countries severely with the Delta variant. Health experts and public officials have agreed that travellers from 85 other countries which have also recorded the variant cannot be banned, she added.

"We can see right now that there are 92 countries with the Delta variant and we cannot isolate the Philippines from all of these countries," Vergeire said. Officials recommended not to add more countries tothe banned list , and instead try to strengthen border controls.

What about the repatriation of Filipinos from above-mentioned countries?

  1. Filipinos arriving under the government-sponsored repatriation programme from the above travel-restricted countries (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and United Arab Emirates) shall undergo a 14-day facility-based quarantine. They will be required a negative RT-PCR test result.
  2. In case of non-Philippine government repatriations, all Filipino repatriates from the countries with travel restrictions must present a negative RT-PCR result. The test must be taken within 48 hours prior to boarding the aircraft or vessel.
  3. Those who transited or who have a mere lay-over at the airport of travel-restricted countries may enter subject to the requirements of the Philippine government.

Should overseas Filipinos flying home through non-Philippine government repatriation get their documents validated?

Yes. In case of non-Philippine government repatriations, all Filipino repatriates from the countries with travel restrictions must present a negative RT-PCR result. The official also said travellers’ documents must be validated by a Philippine Overseas Labor Officer (POLO). They may also opt to present an International Certificate of Vaccination.

Will inbound passengers allowed for 7-day quarantine undergo PCR test?

Yes. In-bound flyers qualified for the seven-day facility-based quarantine (fully vaccinated abroad) must still undergo an RT-PCR (or swab test) on Day 5 following arrival.

What if the individual tests negative at Day 5?

If the RT-PCR test yields a negative result, the individual must still complete the seven-day quarantine before they are allowed to leave the facility. Previously, persons fully vaccinated abroad must undergo a 10-day facility-based quarantine where they take a RT-PCR test on Day 7 upon arrival.

What’s the rule for travellers from the UAE?

Regular commercial flights between the UAE and Philippines will remain restricted until July 15, 2021 following the announcement by the Philippine government on Tuesday to “extend the ban on travellers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman and the UAE.

Do UAE airlines fly to the Philippines?

Yes. Emirates and Etihad continue to operate flights to and from Manila — but only for transiting passengers from non-restricted countries.

What about passengers who are residents in the UAE?

UAE-based Etihad airline told Gulf News on Tuesday: “In line with the latest directives issued by the government of the Philippines, passengers from the UAE and Oman will not be accepted for travel to Manila (MNL) until further notice, with the exemption of Filipino citizens who are part of the government repatriation programme. This is in addition to the current ban on travel from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to the Philippines.” “Etihad will continue to operate flights to Manila carrying transiting passengers from non-restricted countries and flights from Manila with passengers travelling to Abu Dhabi and across our network. These passengers will be subject to acceptance and quarantine conditions,” the Abu Dhabi-based airline added.

What does “transiting passengers” mean?

Transiting passengers are defined as those who have been to the airport the whole time and have not been cleared entry to the countries above by its immigration authorities.

Q: How does the Philippines rank among countries when it comes to post-COVID-19 reopening progress?

Flight capacity in the Philippines (population: 110 million) is still down 72% as of June 28, 2021 — only 3.2% of the country’s inhabitants has been covered by vaccines, compared to 7.4% in neighbouring Indonesia (population: 270.6 million) and 10.8% in Malaysia (population: 31.95 million).

A Bloomberg report rates the lockdown severity in the Philippines at 72%, as the country ranks among second-lowest among 53 nations when it comes to bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are the repatriation flights from the UAE?

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola told Philippine media on Wednesday that two repatriation flights from the UAE are scheduled on the following dates:

  • June 30, 2021
  • July 17, 2021

Depending on the availability of quarantine facilities, the government will charter more flights, Arriola stated.

How many quarantine facilities are available for inbound travellers in the Philippines?

There are 35,000 rooms available at the moment, said Arriola.  Arriola said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is working with other government agencies to ask for more quarantine facilities. Once rooms are available, new repatriation flights might be announced between June 30 and July 17.

35,000rooms

number of quarantine facilities in the Philippines for in-bound passengers

“It's easy to charter flights but we cannot do away with the quarantine protocol if there are really no rooms. If you read the news, the Delta variant wreaks havoc, but we're doing our best and trying to find ways to open up more hotels in different parts of the country," she added.

Phil
Filipino expats at the Dubai airport ahead of their repatriation on Wednesday, June 17, 2021. Some OFWs have already taken to social media their appeal to lift the suspension as many of them are now burdened with rebooking fees — and expired visas. For those stranded, Arriola said they may also avail of the repatriation program being offered by the nearest embassy or consulates.

Some OFWs have already taken to social media their appeal to lift the suspension as many of them are now burdened with rebooking fees — and expired visas. For those stranded, Arriola said they may also avail of the repatriation program being offered by the nearest embassy or consulates.

“Anyone who's stranded is an OFW in distress, so I would really encourage them to avail of the repatriation flights because the longer it takes the more people are stranded so we're not selective when it comes to repatriation so anyone who applies is welcome, but of course the priority are those with medical conditions and those who are pregnant," she said.

On June 17, 325 distressed overseas Filipino workers were repatriated from the UAE — the third flight from UAE this year using the DFA's Assistance To Nationals (ATN) fund. The batch included 88 pregnant distressed overseas Filipinos. Upon arrival, all repatriates undergo stringent facility-based quarantine provided by the government.

OFWs: How can they have their vaccination status validated?

OFWs can opt to have their vaccination status validated by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), which is either attached to a Philippine consulate or embassy. On Wednesday, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) decided that the option of presenting POLO validations as proof of vaccination status is "exclusive" to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

The overseas labour offices shall start accepting applications for validation starting July 5, 2021. OFWs who can present international certificates of vaccination (ICVs) may already avail of the green lanes beginning July 1, 2021, provided they comply with other requirements, according to the Philippine News Agency.

Vaccines: New lots expected

About 13 million doses of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines will be delivered to the Philippines in July, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said during the weekly situation briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this week. Galvez said deliveries include:

  • 5.5 million doses of Sinovac
  • 1.17 million doses of AstraZeneca
  • 250,800 doses of Moderna (expected on July 12)

Galvez added 500,000 doses of Pfizer "may" also arrive. In addition, the Philippines expects to receive in July between 2 and 4 million doses from the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility, 800,000 to 1 million doses donated by the US, and 1.1 million doses from the Japanese government.

Galvez said the US government's donation will most likely be the single-dose jabs by Johnson & Johnson.

How many vaccines arrived in June?

This June alone, the Philippines received 9,126,420 vaccine doses -- 6.5 million doses of Sinovac; 100,000 doses of Sputnik V; 2,276,820 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech delivered through the COVAX facility; and 249,600 doses of Moderna, the first batch of the other US-made vaccine.

What vaccines are expected in August?

Galvez said that in August, the government expects to get 13,670,000 doses from the following:

  • Sinovac
  • Pfizer
  • AstraZeneca
  • Moderna
  • COVAX facility

The break-up of quantities was not immediately clear.