Severity: Critical Alert
Entry/Exit: Philippines suspends all international and domestic flights until further notice as of May 3 due to COVID-19. Other measures in effect.
This alert affects Philippines
This alert began 03 May 2020 04:45 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 May 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Incident: Restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: International and domestic transport restrictions, heightened security, enhanced health screenings, business disruptions
The Philippines government announced the indefinite suspension of all international and domestic flights in the country starting 0800 May 3 to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The order covers Clark International Airport (CRK), Davao International Airport (DVO), Iloilo International Airport (ILO), Kalibo International Airport (KLO), Laoag International Airport (LAO), Mactan-Cebu International Airport (CEB), Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL), Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPS), and Zamboanga International Airport (ZAM). The measure exempts cargo, medical, utilities, and maintenance flights.
The suspension follows the recent extension of enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and other areas that officials are classifying as high-risk through May 15. Residents in these locations are required to stay at home and suspend on-site work, except for essential services such as the medical sector. Schools, mass transport, and large gatherings remain suspended. Wearing face masks in public is still mandatory. Enhanced community quarantine will also continue elsewhere in Luzon Island, including Albay, Bataan, Batangas, Benguet, Bulacan, Catanduanes, Cavite, Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Quezon, Rizal, Tarlac, and Zambales provinces. In the Mindanao region, Davao de Oro and Davao del Norte provinces and Davao City will also remain under enhanced community quarantine. Measures will also continue in Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Cebu, and Iloilo provinces and Cebu City in the Visayas region. The government may downgrade the risk level of these locations in the coming weeks.
Officials have designated other locations as low- and moderate-risk areas and will implement the less restrictive general community quarantine in these places through May 15. People below 21 years old or above 59 and those with health issues should remain home. Employees can restart working in phases, though details are unclear. Affected locations will also implement curfews, though the hours may vary, and resume public transport operations at reduced capacity. Officials are also allowing essential construction projects to restart work with social distancing measures in place. Malls may reopen, though only shops offering essential goods and services can operate.
The government is maintaining a Code Red Sublevel 2 alert, the highest level, as authorities have confirmed local transmission of the virus. Local officials also continue to enact city- or province-specific restrictions. Some areas have implemented compulsory quarantines, banned entry for visitors arriving from Metro Manila, or suspended flights at local airports. Further restrictions are possible nationwide in the coming weeks.
In addition to the indefinite flight suspension order, the government continues to suspend all visas, including visas that the government has already issued, and visa-free privileges, effectively banning foreigners from entering the country. The restriction exempts foreign spouses and children of Philippine citizens and diplomatic staff and their dependents. The measure also does not affect visa holders who are already in the Philippines. The government continues to prevent Philippine citizens, except for Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and uniformed personnel on official duty, from departing the country.
Background and Analysis
The measures correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. 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 a 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.