Philippine reinstates 14-day quarantine

MANILA, 11 May 2021: A mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travellers entering the Philippines was introduced Sunday by the country’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

The new rule extends the quarantine days from 10 to 14 days and requires travellers entering the Philippines to complete quarantine at specified facilities for the first 10 days, followed by four more days at their residence where applicable.

The country remains under Code Red Sublevel 2 on its code alert system, indicating ongoing local virus transmission with greater numbers of cases than the government can address.

The central government has ordered several localities to implement stricter protocols, termed the modified, enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), through to 14 May. The areas include Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal; Santiago, Tuguegarao, and Zamboanga cities; and Abra, Ifugao, and Quirino provinces.

Under MECQ, key industries can work on-site with full capacity, while sectors like real estate and manufacturing of nonessential goods can operate with half their workforce. Some public transport vehicles can still operate for commuters who are allowed to leave their homes. Several businesses, like tourism sites and entertainment venues, have been instructed to suspend their operations. Nonessential mass gatherings are banned.

Travel Restrictions

Foreign nationals who are eligible to enter the Philippines remain subject to requirements, such as pre-booking a quarantine facility, and undergoing reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests upon arrival.

The number of foreign nationals allowed to arrive in the Philippines via each port of entry is limited; foreign arrivals at Metro Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) are capped at 1,500 persons daily.

Officials continue to ban travellers who visited Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, or Sri Lanka during the past two weeks. In addition, individuals who are already in the Philippines and were in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, or Sri Lanka within the last two weeks are subject to a 14-day quarantine period at designated institutions.

Government officials warned that the measures were introduced to prevent a situation similar to  India, where daily cases are “exceeding hundreds of thousands resulted in patients sharing beds and dying because of a shortage in supply of oxygen.”

The travel ban on visitors who have visited India during the last two week remains due to the prevalence of the B1617 variant there, which is blamed for the fast and massive transmission of Covid-19 in the Philippines.