(Eagle News) — The Bureau of Immigration has warned airlines against allowing the boarding of passengers who are not allowed to enter the Philippines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the bureau, airlines that do this will be meted out a hefty fine.
“We are conducting 100% passport inspection to ensure that we see the complete travel history of the arriving passengers,” bureau ports operation division chief Carlos Capulong said.
Only recently, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases announced foreigners with visa-free privileges from countries included in the Philippines’ “green list” were allowed to enter the country.
However, the task force suspended the implementation of such following reports of a new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, which could potentially pose more devastating effects.
“For now, the current general travel restrictions stand. Only Filipinos, balikbayan, and those with long term visas from green and yellow list countries may be allowed entry,” Bureau Chief Jaime Morente said.
According to Morente, travelers from countries included in the Philippines’ red list—South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy–will not be allowed entry until December 15.
“Those coming from red list countries within the last 14 days prior to arrival shall not be allowed to enter the Philippines,” Morente said.
Researchers have found the Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa, has 10 mutations as opposed to Delta’s two and Beta’s three.
The World Health Organization has classified the variant as a variant of concern, and warned vulnerable individuals to avoid travel at the moment.