MANILA – After a seven-and-a-half-month ban, the Philippines will allow foreigners with pre-existing visas to enter the country from Nov. 1, although the arrival of tourists is still prohibited.
The Philippines closed the country’s borders on March 15, which meant that thousands of foreigners with work, business or temporary residency visas who were caught outside the country due to the pandemic couldn’t return.
“The entry of these foreign nationals to the country, however, is subject to conditions, such as they must have a valid and existing visa at the time of the entry and must likewise have a pre-booked accredited quarantine facility,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement on Friday.
The arrival of foreigners, who must be tested for COVID-19 before and after arriving in the Philippines, will be subject to the daily inbound passenger limit at ports of entry. At Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, the main port of entry to the country, numbers have been reduced to 2,500 per day.
As of Monday, Filipinos can now travel abroad and return freely for “non-essential” reasons and will no longer be required to present the previously-required negative COVID-19 test taken 24 hours before boarding.
Since Oct. 1, Filipinos have been able to travel domestically in a timid opening after half a year of restrictions, but they can only travel to a few authorized destinations, such as the popular holiday island of Boracay and some northern provinces of the country, although in most cases, a negative PCR test is a requirement.
That month, after having imposed one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world, especially in the capital, the Philippines began to relax quarantine restrictions to open up the economy, which has been seriously damaged by the pandemic and has entered recession for the first time in three decades.
According to the World Bank, the Philippines is forecast to see a 6.9 percent contraction in the economy this year, the worst drop in 35 years. The government had projected a 5.5 percent drop.