BI reminds public: Foreign tourists still barred from Philippines

BI reminds public: Foreign tourists still barred from Philippines
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said tourism enterprises have complied with every health protocol set by the government, proof of which is the sector has yet to witness an outbreak since reopening to domestic tourists last year.
Philstar.com / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration reminded the public Sunday that only foreigners who already have immigrant and non-immigrant visas may again enter the country as travel restrictions are slightly relaxed.

In a statement to reporters, the Bureau of Immigration reiterated that the country only reverted to implementing the travel international guidelines that existed prior to March 22, when the government imposed a ban on the entry of all foreigners due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.

“Foreign tourists are still prohibited from entering the country and said restriction remains effective until it is lifted by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases,” Morente said.

“The recent easing of travel restrictions applies only to those aliens who were allowed to come here before March 22 and they should have valid and existing visas at the time of their arrival in our ports of entry,” the BI chief added.

As a result, only "foreign spouse and children of Balikbayans or returning Filipinos and former Filipinos who are traveling with the latter" are exempted from the visa requirements. 

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente “shall have exclusive prerogative to decide on the waiver or recall of exclusion orders of foreign nationals, subject to regular reporting to the IATF Secretariat,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque added in a separate statement.

"Foreigners who are holders of valid and existing Special Resident and retirees visas or Section 9(a) temporary visitors’ visas may also be allowed entry as long as they present an entry exemption document from the Department of Foreign Affairs upon arrival," the BI also said. 

"Except for foreign diplomats and members of international organizations, all foreign travelers are required to present a pre-booked accommodation for at least seven nights in an accredited quarantine hotel of the facility where they will be tested for COVID-19 on the sixth day from the date of their arrival."

The bureau in its statement was also careful to highlight that following the IATF, travelers who came from India or have a travel history to India within the last 14 days preceding their arrival are banned from entering the country until May 14. 

The national government on April 27 imposed the two-week ban on those with travel history to India with New Delhi struggling to contain its own surge of COVID-19 cases linked to a “double mutant” coronavirus variant and other superspreader events.

As of this post, the country's health department has recorded 1,046,653 coronavirus cases since the pathogen first emerged over a year ago. 

The Philippines is still under the world's longest quarantine, 411 days since the first enhanced community quarantine was hoisted. 

— Franco Luna with reports from Kristine Joy Patag 

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