Travel restriction may extend to OFWs — Bello

Published January 4, 2021, 5:31 PM

by Leslie Ann Aquino

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Monday said there is a possibility that overseas Filipino workers will also be included in the government policy banning travelers from the United Kingdom and 20 other countries with cases of the new Covid-19 strain from entering the Philippines.

(JANSEN ROMERO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“It’s very possible that the restriction will also apply to OFWs…the transmission of the new COVID variant is said to be fast that’s why the Inter Agency Task Force is concerned,” he said in a virtual forum.

“They will study the possibility even the restriction will also cover OFWs,” added Bello.

He, however, said that they have yet to receive a report of an OFW being afflicted with the new COVID strain.

“So far, we have yet to recieve of a report of an OFW being contaminated with the COVID variant,” Bello said.

“Once we find an OFW contaminated by this new COVID-19 variant, this might be a factor that will move the IATF-EID to consider including them in the restriction,” he added.

The labor chief said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) also expressed concern over the possibility of running out of quarantine facilities as arriving OFWs are required to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine after coming from areas covered by existing travel restrictions. 

“Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac is very apprehensive that we may run out of hotel rooms because we are repatriating no less than 1,000 to 3,500 OFWs daily,” said Bello. 

“Under the present rule if you come from the 21 countries enumerated in the IATF resolution, you are prevented from entering the country even if you are a Filipino. There’s only one exception and that is if you are OFW but there is a strict health protocol,” he added.

 
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