The Philippine government expanded the ongoing travel ban to include Austria following the detection there of the new COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa, Malacañang announced late Friday.
This bring to 28 the number of countries temporarily banned from transporting passengers to the country.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that the Office of the President has prohibited the entry of foreign passengers coming from or who have been to Austria within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines starting January 10, 2021.
The travel restriction is effective until January 15, 2021.
Filipino and foreign travelers who arrived in the Philippines from Austria before January 10 will be allowed to enter the country but will be required to undergo a 14-day facility-based quarantine even though their RT-PCR test result turn out negative for COVID-19.
Filipino and foreign passengers merely transiting through Austria shall be covered by the rules as provided for in the Memorandum from the Executive Secretary dated December 31, 2020.
Meanwhile, the rules on incoming unaccompanied minor Filipino passengers shall also apply to passengers coming from or who have been to Austria starting January 10.
The Office of the President has directed the Task Group on Returning Overseas Filipinos of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 and all local government units (LGUs) to make the necessary preparations for the implementation of strict quarantine and isolation in health facilities for those arriving.
They also ordered LGUs to monitor those undergoing quarantine at home, after January 15, 2021.
The Philippines has imposed travel restrictions on passengers from countries where there were confirmed cases of the new COVID-19 strain — United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, The Netherlands, Hong Kong SAR, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Spain, the United States, Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, and Brazil.
The variants from the United Kingdom and South Africa are believed to be more contagious. The Department of Health (DOH) said both mutations have not been detected in the Philippines. (With a report from Jun Ramirez)