Philippines suspends leisure travel abroad for Filipinos

Filipinos hoping to leave the country in the coming days for some rest and relaxation will have to hold off on their trip after the Philippine government temporarily suspended "non-essential outbound travel."

Only those with confirmed plane tickets as of July 20 will be allowed to push through with their trips, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said during a Malacañang virtual press briefing on Thursday, July 23.

Why the sudden change in rules? Because only one Philippine travel insurance agency has agreed to provide insurance for Filipinos as required by the government's Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

The task force required Filipinos to secure insurance that would cover booking of accommodations should they get stranded abroad due to quarantine measures and health insurance should they be hospitalized for COVID-19.

"The sad news is, only one insurance company in the Philippines agreed to this travel and health insurance so the IATF suspended non-essential outbound travel," said Roque.

"But for confirmed bookings as of July 20, 2020, we will allow non-essential outbound travel," he continued.

Two weeks ago, on July 7, the government finally lifted the ban on leisure travel for Filipinos, as long as certain requirements were met.

Essential travel still allowed

In a new IATF resolution, the government laid out requirements for essential travel of Filipinos. These are:

  • Execution of a Bureau of Immigration Declaration acknowledging the risks involved in travelling, including risk of delay in their return trip, to be provided for in the check-in counters by the airlines
  • Upon return, they should follow Guidelines of Returning Overseas Filipinos of the National Task Force which includes mandatory quarantine at a government-accredited facility until they test negative for COVID-19

Essential travel is defined as going abroad for business and work, medical, emergency, and other humanitarian reasons.

Overseas Filipino workers, students enrolled aborad or are participants in exchange programs, permanent residents of foreign jurisdictions, and foreign nationals are also allowed to leave the country. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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