Authorities shed light on temporary travel ban from China, SAR

Aviation authorities on Sunday afternoon clarified issues concerning the temporary travel ban on visitors from China and its Special Administrative Regions (SAR) -- Hong Kong and Macao.

How can Filipinos go home now that airlines have canceled services to Chinese destinations? What would happen to travelers or Chinese citizens who came here after the temporary travel ban announcement?

Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the ban was directed to the travelers and not to the airlines. However, since there has been an increasing concern about the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV), carriers were prompted to cancel flights to and from China.

"CAB has received a significant number of flight cancellations," he said in a press conference, noting the decline in the market as many people would not want to go to China.

He said Filipinos and permanent resident visa holders may still travel to the Philippines if there is an available flight or fly via another country.

"There are two ways: (take) a direct flight or fly via a third country. If there is an available regular flight, they could take it. Repatriation will take place if they wish to come home and there is no available regular flight," he said.

Since the directive was issued on Sunday morning, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Ed Monreal confirmed that there were some flights from Hong Kong that landed in Manila a few minutes after MIAA received the directive.

"The decision of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and Bureau of Quarantine was to send them (foreigners from China) back," Monreal said.

The directive covers temporary ban of any person regardless of nationality, except Filipino citizens and permanent resident visa holders issued by the Philippine government directly coming from China or SAR; any person regardless of nationality, except Filipino citizen and permanent resident visa holders, who within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, has been to China or its Special Administrative Regions.

"Since the ban says no entry for foreigners, they will be sent back (to their flight of origin) once they come here. This would depend on the airlines if there would be an available flight. If there's none, they could probably use the same airline that took them here, if it would agree to take them back," BI Port Operations Division chief Grifton Medina said.

Monreal said all arriving Filipinos and permanent resident visa holders from China should undergo a mandatory fourteen-day quarantine.

A temporary ban on Filipinos from travel to China and its special administrative regions was also imposed.

As of Sunday night, Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and AirAsia Philippines canceled flights between the Philippines and China and its special administrative regions.

AirAsia canceled flights from Manila and Kalibo to mainland China cities (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Shanghai), Hong Kong SAR, and Macao SAR until March 1, 2020.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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