Philippine health authorities directed the Bureau of Quarantine to locate passengers who arrived within 14 days before November 29 from red-listed countries. File photo shows Philippine Airlines planes on the tarmac of Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Image Credit: Supplied

Manila: The government’s Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has announce on Sunday fresh travel curbs for in-bound travellers from seven more countries amid the threat of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron.

In addition to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique, the government also included in the “red list” the following countries:

  1. Austria
  2. Czech Republic
  3. Hungary
  4. the Netherlands
  5. Switzerland,
  6. Belgium
  7. Italy

The ban is effective Nov. 28 until Dec. 15.

Only Filipinos returning to the country via repatriation flights may be allowed entry, subject to prevailing protocols for “red list” countries, the IATF added.

The government clarified that travelers already in transit and those who have been to the red list countries within 14 days before 12:01 a.m. of November 30 shall not be subject to this entry restriction. But they shall be required to undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days with testing on the 7th day.

Earlier report

The Philippines on Friday suspended flights from countries with cases of a new coronavirus variant that was first detected in South Africa, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said. Countries covered by the new in-bound passenger/flight suspensions:

  • South Africa
  • Botswana
  • Namibia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Lesotho
  • Eswatini
  • Mozambique

Temporary move

"The temporary suspension of inbound international flights from South Africa, Botswana, and other countries with local cases or with the likelihood of occurrences of the B.1.1.529 variant... shall take effect immediately," spokesman Karlo Nograles said in a statement.


The announcement came hours after the government announced it will reopen to fully-vaccinated tourists from most nations from December 1 to help revive an economy battered by the pandemic.

Nograles said the government has since imposed heightened border control measures to prevent the entry of the new coronavirus strain.

The flight suspensions - which will last initially up to December 15 - also include Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique.

Passengers who have been to these countries over the past two weeks are also barred from entering the Philippines, he added.

The government also ordered the immigration services to locate travellers who flew in from these nations in the past week and place them under 14-day quarantine.


Tourism is a major driver of the Southeast Asian country's economy and accounted for nearly 13 percent of gross domestic product in 2019, official data shows.

But that slumped to 5.4 percent last year as arrivals plummeted more than 80 percent to 1.48 million after the government barred travellers from its white-sand beaches and other tourist draws.