By Ariel Fernandez, Bloomberg, and Jeffrey Damicog
All foreign nationals coming from South Korea will be allowed to enter the Philippines provided they present a certification issued by the Korean government that they did not come from North Gyeongsang province or even visited the place the past couple of days, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Friday.
BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval also said Filipino tourists will not be allowed to depart for South Korea.
Airport immigration officials appealed to Filipino tourists to rebook their trips to South Korea because this is not the appropriate time to travel due to the coronavirus disease COVID-19 outbreak.
Sandoval said a foreign traveler must have at least two copies of the certification (possibly one is a photocopy) – one for airline concerned and one for the immigration officer to be presented upon arrival at the NAIA terminal.
Philippine authorities are coordinating with South Korean counterparts to identify travelers who had come from North Gyeongsang province, Sandoval added.
So far, no Filipino tourist was seen at the airline counters bound for Incheon, South Korea, following the travel ban announcement.
It was observed that departing Korean Air and Asiana Airlines passengers are mostly Filipino senior citizens with connecting flight to the United States while others are a few Europeans and no Filipino tourist were spotted while the Jeju Air most of their passengers are South Koreans and few Filipinos during recent flights to Korea.
K-Pop groups cancel concerts
With the COVID-19 outbreak in South Korea, all major K-Pop labels are canceling their concerts in the region, disappointing millions of fans.
Pia Corp., which provides event ticketing services in Japan including those for K-pop and J-pop concerts, lost a quarter of its value in just five days, its worst rout since October, 2008. SM Entertainment Co. and JYP Entertainment Corp. have tanked about 15% in nine days.
Major K-pop acts that have canceled or postponed their Asia concerts include massively popular BTS, JYP’s nine-member girl band Twice, SM Entertainment’s Red Velvet and NCT Dream.
“Concerts by various artists have been canceled, which would have quite an impact,” said Soichiro Tsutsumi, a trader with eWarrant Japan Securities. “It’ll likely take a month or two from here for the situation to peak.”
Things are looking similar in Japan. Three-member girl band Perfume called off a concert just hours before it was planned, following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s request to scale down major cultural events over the next two weeks.
Japan’s Amuse, Inc. has lost almost 13% this week, the most since March 2018, while a 15% plunge in Avex, Inc. is taking the stock to its biggest weekly drop since August 2013.
South Korea guidelines
As this developed, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) was scheduled to release Friday, Feb. 28, the rules concerning the travel ban on South Korea.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said, among the other Cabinet members comprising the task force, he has already signed Resolution No. 08 of the IATF-EID.
The resolution stated that all persons “coming from the North Gyeongsang Province of the Republic of Korea, including Daegu and Cheongdo, shall be temporarily banned from entering the Philippines.”
The ban also includes those who have been in the Philippines within 14 days since coming from these places in South Korea.
On the other hand, the task force exempted arriving “Filipinos citizens, including their foreign spouse and children, if any, holders of Permanent Resident Visa, and holders of 9(e) Diplomat Visas issued by the Philippine government…”
“Travel to South Korea shall be temporarily suspended, except for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), whether returning or newly hired, upon execution of a Declaration signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved,” the task force also said.
The task force also stated that those “leaving for study abroad, and permanent residents of South Korea shall likewise be allowed to travel to South Korea.”
“The aforementioned provisions shall be effective immediately, subject to close monitoring by the IATF within the next forty-eight (48) hours. Any of the aforementioned provisions shall be subject to regular reassessment,” the task force stated.
In the same resolution, the task force included Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles as “part of the IATF as ex officio member.”
26 Koreans found
Meanwhile, health authorities in Cebu City have already traced the whereabouts of the 26 Korean nationals who arrived in Cebu last Tuesday from Daegu City, North Gyeongsang Province.
The Korean tourists had to be tracked down since they came from Daegu City, which was considered as the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in South Korea.
Dr. Jaime Bernadas, regional director of the Department of Health-Central Visayas (DOH7), said 12 of the Korean tourists were found staying in separate hotels in Lapu-Lapu City while the 14 others were staying in Cebu City.
Although the foreigners showed no signs of COVID-19 so far, they were considered Persons Under Monitoring (PUM) since they came from a place with cases of COVID-19, said Bernadas.
Bernadas said the DOH 7 was still waiting for instructions from its central office on how to deal with the situation.
“They are confined in their hotels while we wait for new guidelines. Practically, we treat them as PUM,” said Bernadas.
DOH 7 personnel will be stationed in the hotels to monitor the foreigners. (With a report from Calvin Cordova)