Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Philippine officials expand COVID-19 measures to include entry, exit, movement restrictions in Metro Manila, March 15-April 14.

This alert affects Philippines

This alert began 14 Mar 2020 08:00 GMT and is scheduled to expire 14 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Preventative restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: March 15-April 14
  • Impact: International and domestic transport restrictions, heightened security, enhanced health screenings, business disruptions; possible protests

Summary


The Philippine government has announced that all inbound and outbound movement, including land, domestic air, and maritime transport, will be restricted in Metro Manila, March 15-April 14; however, these measures could be extended to other regions in the coming days as in-country cases increase. The measures are aimed at controlling the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after the government announced a Code Red Sublevel 2 alert level for the virus. The order applies to all 16 cities in the Metro Manila region and the municipality of Pateros.

The restrictions include:

Travel

Authorities will suspend movement to and from Metro Manila, from March 15. Officials will only allow transit of health and civil workers, those with emergency medical or humanitarian needs, as well as those with valid proof of employment or business operation in Metro Manila, or proof of flight bookings via airports such as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) within 12 hours. The restrictions will mainly curtail domestic flight services; public transport services within Metro Manila will remain operational.

Earlier, the Philippines announced a ban on entry to international travelers from countries with confirmed community spread of COVID-19. The measures do not apply to Philippine citizens, their dependents, and foreign nationals with permanent residency. Officials have also instructed Philippine citizens to postpone non-essential travel to affected countries. International flight disruptions are highly likely due to decreased demand.

Several city-specific movement restrictions continue in other parts of the Philippines as of March 14. Local authorities in Quezon Province's Cagbalete Island have barred both domestic and foreign tourists from entering the island through at least March 23. Reports indicate that officials in several cities, such as Kibungan, Benguet Province, and Balbalan and Tinglayan, Kalinga Province, have also restricted tourist entry due to COVID-19 concerns; it is unclear whether the measures apply to Philippine nationals. Further domestic and international movement restrictions are possible in additional areas in the Philippines in the coming days and weeks.

Commercial

Authorities in Metro Manila have banned large gatherings and shut schools through at least April 12. Officials are encouraging work-from-home and flexible shift arrangements. However, authorities have assured all cargo transit and business operations, except in shopping malls, will remain normal. Workers with valid proof of employment or business commitments in Metro Manila can also transit in and out of the region. Limited business and supply chain disruptions in Metro Manila and adjacent areas, are still possible due to worker absenteeism and voluntary shutdown of small businesses.

Security

Authorities will impose a daily curfew in the Metro Manila region, 0800-1700 March 15-April 15. Officials are advising residents to only travel out of homes for emergency and essential work, business, and shopping purposes. Officials plan to deploy additional security personnel to enforce movement controls in Metro Manila; health screening and document checking will be carried out at checkpoints. Localized incidents of panic buying and civil unrest are possible.

Additional cities and provinces in the Philippines are likely to impose business restrictions and increase security measures in the coming days and possibly weeks.

Advice
Confirm all planned travel to and from the Philippines; consider postponing nonessential travel due to likely international travel restrictions. Follow all official instructions. Remain polite and nonconfrontational if questioned by security personnel. Avoid crowded areas as a precaution. Stock up on essential supplies whenever possible. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings. Carry proper identification documents to present at security checks. Avoid any demonstrations as a precaution.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.