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Gov’t loosens travel restrictions for inbound passengers

Malacanang on Friday said that the government’s task force against the coronavirus will relax travel curbs on foreigners coming from more than 30 countries that have detected cases of the more contagious British variant of the coronavirus starting Feb. 1.

Last year foreigners coming or transiting from countries with confirmed cases of the British coronavirus variant were barred from entering the country. The list, which includes the United States, China, Japan, and Australia, was expanded to more than 30 countries.

The new rules cover foreigners previously allowed to enter the country, including those holding work visas and spouses of Filipinos, Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque, Jr. said, adding that tourists would remain banned.

Mr. Roque said that starting Feb. 1, inbound passengers, regardless of their country of origin, “should have valid and existing visas at the time of entry” although those “qualified under the Balikbayan program under Republic Act No. 6768 or the Act Instituting the Balikbayan Program” are exempted.

Other conditions for entry into the country include pre-booked accommodations in a quarantine facility, and that the travellers have to take a COVID-19 test six days after arrival.

All inbound passengers still need to complete a 14-day quarantine.

Mr. Roque said the conditions were included in the newest resolution approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on Thursday.

“The entry of these foreign nationals will be subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry,” he said.

Mr. Roque said the Bureau of Immigration has been directed to formulate the guidelines for the implementation of the new conditions. The new rules for foreign travelers will take effect on Feb. 1.

The health department confirmed this week that there has been domestic transmission of the British variant, which has infected 17 people so far, including a dozen in Mountain Province. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, with a report from Reuters

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