The Philippines has announced that the travel ban imposed on Filipino nationals visiting Hong Kong and Macau amid the coronavirus scare, has been conditionally lifted.
The highly contagious and new coronavirus, COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan, China, was first detected in Hong Kong on January 22 and since then 62 confirmed cases and two deaths have been reported.
Filipinos Can Now Travel to Hong Kong, Macau on One Condition
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Filipino workers can now travel to Hong Kong and Macau but they need to sign a declaration stating they know about the risks involved, as shared in a report by the Philippine Star.
The DFA noted that the travel ban exemption for OFWs working in Hong Kong and Macau is one of the decisions adopted at the 6th Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The announcement also pointed out that the exemption from the travel ban also applies to Filipino workers flying to Hong Kong and Macau for the first time provided they sign the declaration form available at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Meanwhile, Filipinos and their foreign spouses or children, as well as holders of diplomatic visas entry to the Philippines, will be placed in a 14-day quarantine.
Commenting on this update, the Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente clarified that the travel ban on Filipinos going to Hong Kong and Macau “as tourists” remains in effect.
In a statement, Morente said: “This is a welcome development for our kababayans who wish to return to their work abroad. They (OFWs, students, and permanent residents) may now be allowed to depart to Hong Kong and Macau.”
However, Morente clarified that the ban on Filipinos going to both the countries as tourists is still in effect.
Moreover, the travel ban on mainland China also remains in effect. Morente said that the lifting of the travel ban is an expansion of an earlier directive allowing members of the diplomatic corps to enter the Philippines from Hong Kong and Macau along with Filipino nationals, including their foreign spouse and children.
Morente also explained that the decision for a partial lifting of the ban on China’s SARs came a few days after the government also lifted the travel ban on Taiwan, citing it is undertaking strict measures to contain local transmission of the disease.
Commenting on the update, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo shared: “Those OFWs going back will have to make a written declaration that they know the risk going to their place of work.”
Panelo added that the families of Filipinos from Macau and Hong Kong can now “come back, as well as those having a permanent residence and the members of the diplomatic corps.
In line with this, Panelo gave the assurance that the returning Filipinos from affected countries, who may later turn out to be positive for COVID-19, will be assisted by the government.
During the meeting last weekend, government officials said the lifting of the travel ban in Macau will depend on the assessment of the Department of Health (DOH) and key government agencies on the protocols implemented there to containing the disease.
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