Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Philippines to allow long-term visa holders to reenter from Aug. 1. Varying community quarantine curbs in place nationwide due to COVID-19.
- Alert Begins: 17 Jul 2020 07:56 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 01 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Transport and business disruptions, quarantine measures
Authorities plan to allow long-term visa holders to reenter the Philippines from Aug. 1 amid efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). These travelers will need to adhere to several protocols, including having prebooked a quarantine facility and a COVID-19 testing provider in the Philippines. Other types of previously issued visas and visa-free privileges will remain suspended. Exemptions for foreign spouses and children of Philippine citizens and diplomatic staff and dependents will remain in place. Officials also said that they would not accept new visa applications.Arriving travelers must undergo a two-week quarantine at government-designated facilities. The central government has lifted a ban on nonessential outbound travel. People traveling overseas will be required to comply with protocols, including having travel health insurance that covers rebooking and accommodation expenses and signing a declaration form acknowledging travel risks. Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and uniformed personnel on official duty can continue traveling overseas.
At the domestic level, the government continues to implement varying community quarantine restrictions nationwide through at least July 31. The country remains under Code Red Sublevel 2 on the code alert system, indicating ongoing local virus transmission with greater numbers of cases than the government can address. Residents nationwide need to remain at home at all times, except for essential, emergency or permitted work purposes. At-risk groups, including people below the age of 21 and above the age of 60, cannot work on-site, with limited exceptions.
Cebu City is implementing modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), the second-strictest level of controls, through July 31. Under MECQ, residents can leave home to obtain essential supplies or seek emergency care. Key industries, including agriculture, food establishments, and manufacturing of essential products, can work on-site with full manpower. Several sectors, such as real estate and manufacturing of nonessential goods, can operate with half their workforce. Public transport and domestic flights remain suspended, while essential mass gatherings are limited to five people.
Several locations, including Metro Manila, are implementing the less strict general community quarantine (GCQ) through July 31. Most workplaces and public places can operate with distancing controls, though facilities like gyms and entertainment venues remain closed. Public transport can operate at a reduced capacity with health protocols. Nonessential mass gatherings are banned, while religious mass gatherings remain capped at 10 people. Educational institutions remain suspended. Specific areas under GCQ include:
- Luzon region: Metro Manila and Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal provinces
- Mindanao region: Agusan del Norte and Basilan provinces and Butuan and Zamboanga cities
- Visayas region: Southern Leyte province; Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Ormoc, and Talisay cities; and Consolacion and Minglanilla municipalities
The least-strict level of measures, termed the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), are in effect in several localities through July 31. Companies can work on-site, though at-risk employees have to telecommute. Public places, such as food establishments and gyms, can operate at 50 percent capacity. Public transport can operate with distancing controls in place. Mass gatherings can occur as long as the participants occupy less than half the venue's capacity. Universities can conduct on-site activities with health protocols, while other educational institutions remain suspended with limited exceptions.
Authorities further categorized MGCQ areas into two groups, the localities requiring "strict local action" and the "low-risk" locations. Specific "strict local action" localities, which may implement more stringent controls like community quarantine restrictions in localized areas, include:
- Luzon region: Albay, Bataan, Batangas, Benguet, Bulacan, Cagayan, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Isabela, La Union, Masbate, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Quezon, Sorsogon, Tarlac, and Zambales provinces and Angeles, Baguio, Dagupan, Lucena, Naga, and Puerto Princesa cities
- Mindanao region: Bukidnon, Cotabato, Davao de Oro, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Misamis Occidental, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur provinces, and Zamboanga Sibugay and Cagayan de Oro, Davao, General Santos, and Iligan cities
- Visayas region: Aklan, Antique, Biliran, Bohol, Capiz, Cebu, Guimaras, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, and Samar provinces and Bacolod, Iloilo, and Tacloban cities
All other localities are enacting the least-strict "low-risk" modified general community quarantine, where residents are still required to remain at home except for essential, work, or emergency purposes.
Provincial and municipal authorities may appeal to the central government to either tighten or ease measures. Officials may also enact additional restrictions in localized areas with significant COVID-19 activity. Local authorities in Metro Manila's Manila and Muntinlupa cities are implementing a 2200-0500 and 2200-0400 curfew, respectively. Airlines, including AirAsia (AK), Cebgo (DG), Cebu Pacific (5J), and Philippine Airlines (PR), have reopened domestic routes between several cities with health protocols, such as requiring passengers to wear facemasks and advising passengers to arrive at least three hours before boarding domestic flights.
Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.