PH eases restrictions on Filipino travelers from COVID-19 high-risk countries

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 14) — Filipinos can soon enter the Philippines more easily even if they're coming from countries classified as high-risk for COVID-19, acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said on Friday.

Saudi Arabia, Canada, Spain, Antigua and Barbuda, Curacao, Malta, Puerto Rico, Aruba, French Guiana, Mayotte, US Virgin Islands, Iceland, Mozambique, and Somalia were placed under the red list from Jan. 16 to 31.

The spokesperson said Filipinos coming from countries placed under the red list can enter through regular flights, an update to the previous resolution that only allows entry of Filipino citizens who will arrive via repatriation programs or the government's special Bayanihan flights.

"Napagdesisyonan na kahit sa red list countries na mga Filipinos, we will now allow them to come in as long as they comply with the red list protocols. Hindi na kailangan maghintay ng Bayanihan flight from these countries," he said.

[Translation: We decided that Filipinos coming from red list countries can come in as long as they comply with the protocols. They don't need to wait for Bayanihan flights.]

Nograles, however, clarified foreign tourists from red list areas are still prohibited from entering the country.

All inbound travelers, regardless of their country of origin and vaccination status, need to present a negative RT-PCR test result taken 48 hours prior to departure to the Philippines.

Fully vaccinated individuals coming from red list countries need to undergo facility-based quarantine and take an RT-PCR test on the 7th day. If negative, they need to undergo home quarantine until the 14th day, Nograles said.

For the unvaccinated or partially unvaccinated, the same rules apply, but they can only be discharged from the quarantine facility after 10 days.

Green, yellow list

The following countries/territories/jurisdictions were placed under the green list from Jan. 16 until month-end: Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, British Virgin Islands, China, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Falkland Islands, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Montserrat, Morocco, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Saba, Saint Barthelemy, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sint Eustatius, Taiwan, Timor-Leste, and Uganda.

Fully vaccinated travelers from the green list no longer have to undergo facility-based quarantine. The unvaccinated and partially vaccinated have to stay in a quarantine facility until the release of their negative RT-PCR test result taken on the 5th day.

All other nations not placed under green or red list are part of the yellow list. Vaccinated travelers from the yellow list need to book a quarantine facility until the release of their negative swab test taken on the 5th day. Unvaccinated travelers have to wait until the 7th day to undergo an RT-PCR test.

Quarantine hotel to isolation center

Nograles said the IATF also approved allowing hotels used as the quarantine facility of returning Filipinos to double as an isolation facility if they test positive for COVID-19. He said this will cut down the current tedious process of having to transfer an infected traveler to a different isolation facility.

He said hotels can have a dedicated floor to be used for the isolation of COVID-19 patients.