ECONOMYNEXT – The Philippines has lifted a travel ban on Sri Lanka and nine other countries starting today (September 06), after almost four months despite a backlash from local politicians and a surge in COVID-19 delta variant infections in Sri Lanka.
The Philippines initially imposed a travel ban on India on April 29 and later on May 07 added Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh to the list.
On May 15 it added Oman and the UAE.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the inter-agency COVID-19 task force to lift the current travel restrictions in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
However, inbound travelers from the above-mentioned countries must undergo testing and quarantine protocols, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
The country has also introduced a ‘red’ and ‘yellow’ travel restriction list as it had only maintained a green list so far.
The Philipines green list which is updated at the moment has listed a few countries such as Taiwan, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Hungary, Poland and many island nations.
As per the guidelines published, travelers who fall under ‘red list’ will not be allowed to enter the country.
Those who fall under ‘yellow list’ regardless of the vaccination status, or have visited yellow list countries in the last 14-days will be placed under quarantine and testing protocols.
Travelers after completing 10-days in quarantine facility will be allowed to go under home quarantine in their respective local government units (LGUs) of destination.
Secondly, they shall undergo reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing on the seventh day, with their day of arrival serving as day one.
Third, the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) will ensure strict symptom monitoring while in the facility quarantine for 10 days.
Only Filipinos returning to the country from ‘red list’ destinations via government-initiated repatriation, non-government-initiated repatriation, and Bayanihan flights are be allowed entry, subject to entry, testing, and quarantine protocols.
The decision to remove the ban has gained a lot of backlash from the nation’s politicians.
Imee Marcos a Senator of Philippines was quoted by Manila Bulletin on Monday, September 6, as saying that the lifting of immigration bans on 10 countries by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is ‘’reckless, if [not] premature.’’
Marcos has also said that despite the precautions, the lifting of the travel ban adds to the anxiety over the country’s low vaccination rate.
She noted that the USA which has vaccinated almost 50 percent of its population has restricted non-immigrant travelers from India and lists Bangladesh, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand, and the UAE as “Very High Risk” countries, while Indonesia, Oman, and Sri Lanka are considered “High Risk”.
Marcos said the country should prepare for a worst-case scenario wherein herd immunity could no longer be attained.
Even the country’s Vice President Leni Robredo has questioned why the move came in when the country was reporting a large number of cases.
“If we are just forcing to open the economy, we will just open and close the economy. The opening of economy is okay if it’s accompanied by the protection of everyone),” Robredo was quoted as saying by Manila Bulletin. (Colombo/Sep06/2021)