The Philippine government has finally allowed the foreign spouses and children of Filipinos to enter the Philippines starting December 7 after being denied entry for almost nine months.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque revealed this Friday, saying the InterAgency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases allowed entry to the Philippines of Filipino citizens’ foreign spouses and children, regardless of age, who are traveling with them, starting December 7, 2020.
The IATF likewise permitted the entry of former Filipino citizens, including their spouses and children, regardless of age, who are traveling with them.
According to Roque, these people would be required to have a prebooked quarantine facility and prebooked COVID-19 testing at a laboratory operating at the airport before they can enter the Philippines.
They are likewise subjected to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry.
DOT, BI to formulate guidelines
The IATF, in addition, directed the Bureau of Immigration to formulate the necessary guidelines regarding the entry of these foreign nationals.
The Department of Tourism (DOT), on the other hand, is directed to issue the necessary guidelines for the provision of sufficient accommodation for said people taking into account the release of their COVID-19 test results.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that allowing entry of balikbayans or former Filipino citizens into the country during the holiday season is a great cause for celebration for millions of families who long for the homecoming of their relatives abroad.
“This not only bodes well for our ailing industry but is good tidings for our kababayans who have been clamoring to be reunited with their loved ones from abroad, especially this yuletide season,” she said.
One-seat apart in shuttle services
As the country reopens the economy after being at a standstill for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Roque said the IATF has also approved to increase the operational capacity of commissioned shuttle services for employees of permitted offices or establishments.
The shuttle services are now allowed to adopt a “one-seat apart” arrangement or a full seating capacity, provided there are necessary dividers and other health and safety measures are in place.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will issue the necessary advisories for private shuttles in this regard.
Meanwhile, the IATF likewise approved the recommendations on the collection and safekeeping of data collected through digital contact tracing applications.
According to Roque, data collected through digital contact tracing applications shall conform with specific minimum data requirements set by the Department of Health (DOH).
All data collected through digital contact tracing applications used by DOH-approved COVID-19 health facilities, hospitals, establishments, workplaces, transportation vehicles/ hubs, and local government units (LGUs) shall be submitted to a centralized tracing data repository, which will be linked to either COVID-Kaya or the COVID-19 Document Repository System (CDRS).
Roque said StaySafe.ph is the government’s digital contact tracing application of choice and will be made mandatory for adoption and use in all national government agencies and instrumentalities as well as LGUs.
The Palace official added that private establishments, facilities, and offices are encouraged to use Stafysafe.ph while those with existing contact tracing applications are enjoined to integrate their systems with the Staysafe. ph system. (With a report from Hannah Tabios)