Balikbayans or former Filipino citizens, including their spouses and children who are travelling with them, may enter the Philippines starting December 7, Malacañang announced yesterday.
Also permitted is the entry of Filipino citizens’ foreign spouses and children, who are also with them regardless of age.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution No. 85, signed on November 26, states that starting Dec. 7, they are allowed to enter the country provided they pre-booked a quarantine facility and undergo Covid-19 testing at a laboratory operating at the airport.
“They, too, must be subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry,” it said.
The Bureau of Immigration is directed to formulate guidelines to ensure the policy’s smooth implementation.
The Department of Tourism, meanwhile, was tasked to issue separate guidelines to provide sufficient accommodation for these foreign nationals, taking into account the release of test results.
For the DOT, the IATF’s move was a welcome development for the travel industry, that was among the industries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic following suspensions of international flights.
“This not only bodes well for our ailing industry but is good tidings for our kababayans who have been clamoring to be reunited with their loved ones from abroad, especially this yuletide season,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
She said balikbayans are considered a viable source market to the country’s tourism sector, particularly the second and third generation dependents yet to discover their parents’ roots.
“The Filipino diaspora to date, has reached about 10 million. That is why we deem important the Filipino communities abroad as staunch partners in driving visitors to the Philippines,” she said in a statement.
The Department of Health yesterday reported 370 new recoveries from Covid-19, bringing the country’s total to 387,617 or 91 percent of all Covid-19 cases.
In its daily Covid-19 bulletin, the DOH reported 1,631 new cases, with active cases now at 30,047, or 7.1 percent of the country’s total cases.
Of the active cases, it said 84.3 percent were showing mild symptoms, followed by the asymptomatic at 8.3 percent, those in critical condition at 4.7 percent, those with severe symptoms at 2.5 percent, and those with moderate symptoms at 0.26 percent.
An additional 46 deaths were also reported, bringing the country’s death toll to 8,255 or 1.29 percent of the country’s total Covid-19 cases.
To date, 60 percent of the country’s 1,900 beds at intensive care units are available, 61 percent of 13,500 isolation beds unoccupied, 70 percent of 5,900 ward beds unoccupied, and 81 percent of 2,000 ventilators are not in use.*PNA