By Betheena Unite
Several consular offices will be resuming operations starting May 4 with a “new normal” system in a bid to avoid transmission of COVID-19 within the offices, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced Saturday.
Starting Monday, consular offices (COs) in Cotabato, La Union, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Santiago, and Tuguegarao will be operational while the rest of the COs in the island will remain closed until the end of the enhanced community quarantine.
While these offices have been allowed to return to normal operation, they must shift into the “new normal” system to prevent further transmission of COVID-19 in the offices. Precautionary measures have been set in place for the health and safety of the public and the DFA personnel attending to their consular needs.
“We seek the understanding of the public as we shift to a ‘new normal’ process so that we can minimize potential health hazards for applicants and our personnel alike while ensuring the prompt and efficient delivery of consular services to the public,” Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Neil Frank Ferre said.
Under the new normal scheme, walk-in applications at DFA’s Consular Offices will be suspended during the general community quarantine (GCQ) period. Accommodation of applicants will also be strictly regulated and everyone availing of consular services, including passport issuance or renewal coursed through the courtesy lane and the diplomatic and official passports section, will now need to schedule an appointment via e-mail in order to observe physical distancing within the offices.