Travel to PH still on case-to-case basis – IATF

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 19)— The easing of restrictions on travel to the Philippines remains on a case-to-case basis, a top official of the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force said Monday amid appeals from various sectors.

’Yun naman talaga ang tinatawag na inbound, ‘yung kanilang mga fiance, case-to-case basis ‘yan. Naka-schedule na talaga 'yung kasal, then why not?" Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, vice chairman of the IATF, told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

[Translation: For inbound travels, those with fiances, it’s still a case-to-case basis. If their wedding is already scheduled, then why not?]

The government earlier announced it will be lifting the months-long ban on non-essential travel of Filipinos starting Wednesday, subject to strict health and safety requirements.

But some netizens — particularly couples from different countries who have been separated due to the COVID-19 travel bans — appealed for the government to allow the entry of their loved ones. The calls came through the global movement #LoveIsNotTourism, which works to reunite people with their foreign partners.

Año, for his part, advised concerned parties to file a request for exemption from the travel ban before an appropriate embassy abroad.

Meron pang mga personal and humanitarian considerations. Pero sa ngayon wala pa tayong general rule diyan… Screen muna kasi baka magdagsaan eh galing sa iba’t-ibang countries” the Interior chief said, stressing the continuing need for tight border controls because of the health crisis.

[Translation: There are personal and humanitarian considerations. But for now, there is no general rule on this. We need to screen individuals lest they come in droves from different countries.]

Aside from returning Filipinos, foreign nationals with long-term visas were also previously allowed entry to the country subject to strict quarantine and virus testing protocols.