MANILA, Philippines — The government policy task force on the coronavirus pandemic has agreed to lift the ban on non-essential travel and allow hair treatment in salon even as infections rose by a quarter in the past week, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday, July 7.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases has issued resolution number 52, in which it approves a recommendation from its technical working group to ease restrictions on Filipinos traveling to other countries that will allow their entry.
Rappler enumerated the following conditions to be allowed foreign travel:
- Submission of confirmed round-trip tickets for those traveling on tourist visas
- Adequate travel health insurance to cover rebooking and accommodation expenses, should they end up stranded abroad. The Department of Tourism has yet to provide the specific amount.
- They are allowed entry by the destination country, in accordance with their travel, health, and quarantine restrictions. In other words, Filipinos are not banned from entering the country of destination.
- Execution of a “declaration” acknowledging the risks involved in traveling
Upon their return to the Philippines, Filipino travelers are required to take a reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or swab test for the coronavirus, and be quarantined until they test negative for the disease.
In his televised media briefing on Tuesday, Roque said tourism is still prohibited. Rappler clarified this with Roque, because the conditions appear to indicate otherwise, and he corrected himself, saying, “Okay na tourism (Tourism is okay already).”
The lifting of the travel restrictions will take effect 15 days after the notice is published in the government’s Official Gazette. Roque estimates it will be cleared by mid-August.
Beauty salons in areas under the lowest quarantine level can also start offering hair color, treatment and services other than haircut, which resumed last month, Roque said.
The Philippines has 46,333 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Monday, with 1,303 deaths and 12,185 recoveries. The number of new cases reported daily has increased over the past week, with a record 2,434 new cases confirmed on Sunday, July 5. This has made the country the second-highest number of infections in Southeast Asia after Indonesia, and has the fastest rise in cases since June 1 when the capital region reopened.
The Philippines is set to reopen a terminal in its Manila airport on Wednesday, allowing eight airlines including Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Emirates Airline to operate. From July 7 to July 11, however, the government shut down the MRT3, its busiest elevated railway traversing north to south of Metro Manila, after nearly 200 personnel tested positive for the virus.
Even so, key government officials are calling for further easing of virus curbs to reignite an economy facing its deepest slump in three decades. Earlier lockdown measures have forced many Filipinos out of jobs, and businesses into closure. People must observe health safety protocols when traveling, Roque added.