By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is now allowing Filipino workers, balikbayans, and foreigners to leave the country through any port of Luzon at any time but with certain conditions.
The inter-agency task force on the management of emerging infectious diseases has reached the decision to amend the previous travel restrictions imposed on Luzon over the outbreak of the coronavirus during a meeting Tuesday.
The main island of Luzon is currently under enhanced community quarantine to curb the spread of the new coronavirus disease that has killed 14 people.
“OFWs, balikbayans, and foreign nationals leaving for abroad through any of the ports in Luzon shall be allowed to leave the Philippines at any time for the duration of the enhanced community quarantine,” based on the operational guidelines on Luzon quarantine read by Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles during a Palace press briefing late Tuesday night.
He said these travelers, however, must present proof of international travel schedule within 24 hours. Departing passengers may only be accompanied by not more than one person when traveling to international ports.
Non-essential travel by Filipinos from any port of Luzon shall also be suspended.
“This provision shall not be interpreted to allow outbound travel by Filipinos to jurisdictions where travel restrictions are in place,” the guidelines read.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration may also provide transport services to OFWs intending to leave for abroad.
The latest measures will be subject to joint guidelines to be issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment, and Department of Tourism.
In announcing the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon last Monday, the government imposed restrictions on land, air, and sea travel in the island.
Under the memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, outbound passengers intending to depart the country from any Luzon airport port were initially allowed to travel for a period of 72 hours from the effectivity of the Enhanced Community Quarantine.
Inbound international passengers who are in transit upon the effectivity of the enhanced community quarantine will also be allowed entry, subject to applicable quarantine procedures.