President Duterte has approved the travel restrictions for all travelers coming from Malaysia and Thailand from July 25 to 31, 2021 to prevent the further spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) variants in the country.
On Friday, July 23, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement that the restrictions will cover travelers with travel history to the two countries within the last 14 days preceding their arrival in the Philippines.
The travel ban will start on July 25, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. until July 31, 2021, at 11:59 p.m.
Passengers already in transit from Malaysia and Thailand, and all those who have been there within 14 days before July 25, may still be allowed to enter the country but will be required to undergo a full 14-day facility quarantine, notwithstanding a negative Reverse Transcription – Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) result.
Roque said the travel restrictions are subject to the same exceptions on repatriation and special commercial flights for Filipinos. However, they will be required to follow the prescribed testing and quarantine protocols.
“This action is undertaken to prevent the further spread and community transmission of COVID-19 variants in the Philippines,” he said.
Malaysia and Thailand joined eight other countries in the Philippines’ travel ban list which was prompted by the Delta variant.
So far, the government has imposed travel restrictions on India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Indonesia until July 31, 2021.
The Delta variant first detected in India was reported to have paved the way for the deadly second wave of COVID-19 infections in the said country. So far, the Philippines has reported 47 cases of the said strain.
Prior to the inclusion of Malaysia and Thailand to the travel ban list, Roque said the country was being careful about imposing restrictions on travelers coming from close Asian neighbors.
Despite this, he stressed that the Philippine government will not hesitate to implement a ban if the COVID-19 situation in a certain country worsens.
In his press briefing on Wednesday, July 21, Roque explained that the situation in Malaysia was not as bad as when the restrictions were imposed on travelers from Indonesia on July 14.
“Nung nagdesisyon po na irekomenda ang travel ban sa Indonesia, 97 percent na po ang prevalence ng Delta variant doon sa bansang ‘yan (When it was decided to recommend the travel ban on Indonesia, the prevalence of the Delta variant in that country was 97 percent),” he said.
“Noong mga panahon pong iyon ay nasa 34 percent pa lang ang prevalence sa bansang Malaysia (During that time, the prevalence of the Delta variant in Malaysia was only at 34 percent),” he added.
“Makikita niyo po talaga na hangga’t maaari, dahil mga karatig bansa natin ‘yan at ‘yan ang pinakamalapit na mga bansa sa atin, ay iniiwasan natin ang travel ban (You can see that, as much as possible, because they are our neighboring countries, we avoid placing a travel ban),” he continued.
Last week, Roque addressed criticisms that the government acted “too late” in imposing the restrictions on Indonesia, citing the small number of travelers entering the country from Indonesia over the past four months.