Philippines Lifts Ban on Non-essential Foreign Travel

However, those returning from high-risk areas will have to present a PCR test result and go into quarantine.

Overflying the Visayan Islands after takeoff from Cebu. (Photo: Xavier Summer/Unsplash)

The Philippines’ national-level coronavirus task force is allowing non-essential outbound travel from today, but there’s a catch. Travelers must prove they are free of Covid-19 through an antigen test taken within 24 hours of the trip, sign an immigration declaration acknowledging the risks of traveling abroad, and possess roundtrip tickets along with adequate travel and health insurance. While foreign holidays for Filipinos is now permitted in theory, the options are extremely limited as most international borders across the Asia-Pacific region—and much of the wider world—remain shut.

For instance, the Maldives has been welcoming visitors of all nationalities since the middle of July, though getting there is complicated by the fact that there are no direct flights from Manila. Malaysia is allowing transits through Kuala Lumpur International Airport, but since AirAsia has not yet resumed services to Male, a Maldivian escape is out of the question. Another choice is the UAE. Philippine passport holders are required to apply for a tourist visa in advance, and all passengers arriving into Dubai must take a PCR test within four days of their date of travel at an accredited laboratory, with an official medical certificate (printed in English) presented at both check-in and immigration. Tourists will also need to download and activate the Covid-19 – DXB Smart App upon arrival in Dubai.

Under the government’s updated guidelines, Philippine citizens returning from regions with a high incidence of coronavirus cases must carry a negative PCR test result and be quarantined in a government facility. Those arriving from low- and medium-risk regions will be exempted from either of those requirements. As of October 21, the Philippines has the second-highest caseload in Southeast Asia behind Indonesia, with 360,775 confirmed Covid-19 infections, including 6,690 deaths.

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