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Dubai: Inbound travel to the Philippines for foreign nationals and returning Filipinos who are non-overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) has been suspended for one month, from March 20 until April 19. The decision was made following a directive from the Philippine National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) on Tuesday.

The Philippine government has also ordered international inbound arrivals at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport shall be limited to a maximum of 1,500 passengers per day – for all airlines combined – from March 18 (8am Philippine time) to April 19, 2021 (8am Philippine time), in line with a directive issued by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) in the Philippines.

Highest daily cases in 6 months

The NTF noted, the Philippines has recorded on March 15 a total of 5,404 new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily spike in the last six months. “The significant rise in cases since the start of the year is highly likely to be attributed to increased transmission due to non-compliance to the minimum public health standards during gatherings, increased mobility of people, delays in detection and isolation of infected patients, and the entry of SARS-CoV2 variants of concern having potential increased transmissibility,” according to memorandum issued by NTF chair and National Defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Travel exemptions

According to the NTF circular, the Philippines will suspend the entry of foreigners and returning overseas Filipinos who are non-OFWs except for the following:

> Holders of 9(C) visas (seafarers)

> Medical repatriation and their escort/s endorsed by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)

> Distressed returning overseas Filipinos endorsed by DFA-OUMWA

> Emergency and humanitarian cases

> Flight suspensions

According to CAB, “airlines will need to cancel a number of international flights to and from Manila during the stated March 18 to April 19 period. Philippine Airlines will operate full international schedule for March 18 but we will be announcing in due course any flight cancellations on other days for the rest of the period.”

“Airlines will likewise comply with any directives from the Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI) and concerned authorities on the type of travelers that will be allowed entry into the Philippines from March 18 (8am) to April 19 (8am),” the CAB added.