Foreign passengers coming from the United States would not be allowed entry into the country starting Sunday, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) has announced.

“Foreigners from the US have been added to the list of those restricted. However, aliens from the US eligible for entry that arrive prior to January 3 will be allowed to enter but will be referred to the One-Stop Shop for an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in an advisory issued on Saturday.

This came as the US was included in the list of countries covered by Manila’s temporary travel restrictions due to the threat of a new coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) variant.

Aside from the US, foreigners coming from the following countries are temporarily prohibited from entering the Philippines: the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, Hong Kong SAR, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, and Spain.

Morente said Filipinos who would arrive from these countries would be allowed entry but they have to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Under the new ruling, passengers who are merely transiting through any of the countries covered by the ban will be allowed to enter the Philippines, provided they only stayed at the airport of that country while in transit.

“Aliens with connecting flights and merely had a layover in the 21 countries may now be allowed to enter if eligible for entry. But if they left the airport or were cleared for arrival in the 21 countries, then they are prohibited from entering the Philippines,” he added.

Morente said those who traveled to the 21 countries 14 days before arriving in the Philippines would also be disallowed entry.

Foreigners not coming from the 21 restricted countries are subject to the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

On the other hand, BI Port Operations Division chief, Candy Tan, said they are on standby to implement any changes in travel policies as set by the IATF and the Office of the President.

“International travel has dropped 79 percent in 2020, and you could really feel the effects, especially during this holiday season. What used to be a bustling airport during Christmas and New Year is now silent and somber. There are still a number of traveling passengers, but not as robust as the numbers that we saw in the past years,” Tan said.

She appealed to the public to bear with them for implementing the travel restrictions as these are temporary measures that the government needs to take to prevent the entry of the new strain of Covid-19.

“While we are hoping for the revival of confidence in international travel, we are constrained to take these measures for everyone’s safety,” Tan added. (PNA)