By Roy Mabasa
The Philippine government on Thursday imposed a total ban on all incoming foreigners amid efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.
DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said they are halting the issuance of visas from all embassies and consulates situated abroad.
“We are stopping the issuance of visas from all posts abroad and here. This goes one imperative step forward: a total ban on all incoming foreign visitors of all nationalities no exception,” the DFA chief wrote in a tweet.
For foreign nationals who wish to leave the Philippines, Locsin said local authorities should extend them help to get out, adding that “it’s idiotic to detain them.”
Earlier in the day, Locsin said the DFA is considering the suspension of the visa-free privilege for foreign nationals entering the Philippines except for citizens of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“DFA considering suspension of visa-free privilege except for ASEAN. Also stopping visa issuance worldwide during period of lockdown,” Locsin said.
In a succeeding post, he clarified that the DFA will have to consult with Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat on the possible suspension of the visa-free entry and visa-upon-arrival schemes, noting it is the tourism sector that is “taking the beating.”
“Before the DFA even begins to consider suspending the issuance of visas in all or some of our foreign posts, will ask Tourism Secretary Berna first what she thinks of it because it is her sector that keeps taking a beating so she should always be consulted first,” he said.