Philippine officials ban travel to and from Metro Manila, March 15-April 14. International travel restrictions announced.

Severity: Critical Alert

This alert began 12 Mar 2020 15:25 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 banned in Metro Manila, March 15-April 14; however, these measures could be extended. 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.

Additionally, late March 12 authorities in the Philippines announced an impending ban on 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. However, officials have instructed Philippine citizens to postpone any travel to affected countries. The specific countries covered by the ban were not immediately clear; authorities in the Philippines had previously imposed travel restrictions on China and South Korea. Further domestic and international movement restrictions are possible in additional areas in the Philippines in the coming days and weeks. International flight disruptions are highly likely due to decreased demand.

Authorities in Metro Manila are banning large gatherings and shutting schools through at least April 12. Officials are encouraging work-from-home and flexible shift arrangements. The measures are highly likely to prompt significant business and supply chain disruptions in Metro Manila, and possibly in adjacent areas. Officials plan to deploy additional security personnel to enforce movement controls in Metro Manila. Localized incidents of panic buying and civil unrest are possible.

Several city-specific movement restrictions continue in other parts of the Philippines as of March 12. 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. 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.

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