Quarantine required for Pinoys already vaccinated abroad: BI

    About 400 OFWs arrive at Clark International Airport last July. (File photo by the BCDA Group).

    HOMEBOUND Filipinos who have received COVID-19 vaccines abroad or have tested negative in swab tests will still be required to undergo 14 days of quarantine upon arrival in the country, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said yesterday.

    Immigration spokesman Dana Krizia Sandoval said the BI will continue to enforce the standing policy unless the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) amends the guidelines.

    “Sa ngayon wala tayong guidelines with regard sa mga nabakunahan. Kahit ‘yung mga nagpapakita ng negative na RT-PCR test kailangan pa ring mag undergo ng quarantine at kahit ‘yung mga nabakunahan (As of now, we don’t have guidelines with regards those who have been vaccinated. Even those who have negative RT-PCR tests, they still need to undergo quarantine, same as those already vaccinated),” Sandoval told ABS CBN’s Teleradyo.

    The Palace has earlier imposed travel restrictions on foreigners entering the country and have mandated returning Filipinos to submit health certificates attesting they are not afflicted with the virus.

    Malacañang recently expanded its travel restrictions to 21 countries where a new COVID-19 variant, which health authorities say is more contagious, has been found. The expanded list includes Denmark,

    Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, Hong Kong SAR, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Spain and the United States.

    The expanded travel restriction took effect on December 30, 2020 a.m. and will last until January 15, covering all foreign travelers coming from, or transiting through, the said countries.

    Outbound travel to countries with reported new variants will also be subjected to exiting protocols of the Philippines and the entry protocols of the respective countries.

    Several countries in the expanded travel restriction list such as the United States and the United Kingdom have already started their vaccination drive.

    Sandoval said foreign spouses and children of Filipino nationals who have a history of travel in any of the 21 countries covered by the expanded travel restrictions will not be allowed to enter the Philippines.

    Likewise, Sandoval said Filipinos who had a layover or transited to the 21 countries will be allowed to enter the country but will have to undergo the required quarantine upon arrival.

    “Kung nag lay over lamang sila dun, ibig sabihin hindi sila lumabas ng airport at nag transit lang, pwede na silang papasukin ng bansa pero kailangan nilang mag undergo ng regular procedures ng ating one-stop shop. Kailangan nilang ma-swab at saka quarantine period (If they merely had a layover, meaning they did not go outside the airport and basically, they have only transited, they will be allowed to enter the country but they need to undergp regular procedures in our one stop shop. They will need to undergo swab test and quarantine period),” Sandoval said.

    Sandoval said those who will test negative for the coronavirus may be allowed to undergo the required quarantine period in their respective residences.

    The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) backed the government’s decision to impose travel restrictions to countries where the new strain has been found.

    In a brief statement, CBCP – Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People vice chairman Bishop Ruperto Santos said they agree with the decision of the government to ban the entry of travelers from where the UK strain have been found.

    “It is a very good preventive measures and precautionary moves for our best common good and necessary protection,” said Santos, adding: “Other countries have imposed that travel ban, and it will be an effective step to contain the spread of coronavirus.”

    Meanwhile, Makati City Mayor Abby Binay said the city government will strengthen its implementation of COVID-19 health protocols and quarantine guidelines this year.

    With still almost 300 active cases as of end of 2020, Binay said the city government will work double time to lower the figure.

    She said more police and barangay securities will be roaming the streets and business establishments to ensure that safety protocols such as the wearing of face masks and face shields and physical distancing are observed. – With Gerard Naval and Noel Talacay