Gov’t studying policy on incoming foreign visitors

Published October 25, 2020, 9:39 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government pandemic task force will calibrate carefully if more foreign workers and visitors will be allowed to enter the country, according Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Nograles said the task force will study factors such as the adequacy of the country’s healthcare capacity if the travel restrictions on foreigners will be further relaxed.

“Basically it’s a work in progress. It’s something that’s being studied. We cannot make an impulsive decision,” he said in Filipino during a session on Facebook about the study on the entry of more foreigners into the country.

“It has to be very calculated and very calibrated so our system will not be overwhelmed,” he said

Nograles noted that the country’s carrying capacity must be looked into considering many Filipinos are expected tor return during the Christmas season.

He said the government is also looking into whether foreigners from countries with low to medium coronavirus transmission will be allowed entry. The principle of reciprocity for countries that allowed Filipino travelers is also being discussed.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF) recently decided to  reopen the country’s borders initially to foreigners with investors’ visas starting Nov. 1 amid efforts to revitalize the economy affected by the coronavirus pandemic. These foreigners who want to enter the country must have valid and existing visa at the time of entry as well as pre-booked accredited quarantine facility. The country’s immigration laws will also be applied to the entry of foreigners.

Nograles said the IATF decision was reached following the request made by such group of foreigners to enter the country.

The latest IATF policy covers foreigners investors, foreign personnel of regional or area headquarters of multinational companies, their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21, and those employed in export processing zone enterprises, according to Nograles.