MANILA – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Tuesday said only returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from the United Kingdom and several other countries where there are cases of the new SARS-COV-2 strain are allowed to enter the country.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said President Rodrigo Duterte decided to allow Filipino workers from these countries provided that they would undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
“The President said they (OFWs) will be allowed to come home but they have to be subjected to the 14-day quarantine. Even if upon arrival their swab test result is negative they have to undergo the 14-day quarantine,” he said in a virtual press conference.
He reiterated that only OFWs are exempted from the travel restriction, but their relatives and other balikbayans are covered by the ban.
“All balikbayan, if not OFW they are not covered by the exemption. So they are covered by the restriction by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF),” he said.
Bello added that they expect some 60,000 to 100,000 to come home.
The government ordered the ban on the entry of travelers from the UK and other countries.
These are Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, Netherlands, China, Hongkong, Macao, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, and Spain.
Asked if there is a decision to ban the deployment of Filipinos abroad, Bello said: “There is no decision regarding that. Expect they, most of the countries we’ve mentioned, have declared a lockdown so we will not be able to deploy there.”
The new variant, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, is said to be more contagious and deadly.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the IATF’s recommendation to ban flights from the UK from Dec. 24 to 31 and extended it for another two weeks to avoid the possible entry of the new strain of SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019, into the country. (PNA)