International airports in Luzon have a 72-hour window to accommodate foreigners seeking to leave the Philippines, the country’s Department of Transportation said on Tuesday, March 17.
After that, all gateways from the mainland will be closed in compliance with the “enhanced community quarantine” enforced on the island.
“Outbound passengers intending to depart the Philippines from any of the international airports in Luzon shall be allowed to travel for a period of 72 hours from the effectivity of the enhanced community quarantine,” read the guidelines released by the Inter-Agency Task Force.
It added, “Inbound international passengers in transit upon effectivity of the enhanced community quarantine shall be allowed entry subject to applicable quarantine procedures if coming from countries with existing travel restrictions.”
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, March 16, placed Luzon on an enhanced community quarantine to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Philippines.
“After the 72-hour window, all airports in Luzon will be closed,” said DOTr spokesperson Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles urged those who want to leave the country to make up their minds and secure their flights already.
“Based on discussion with IATF, those who really want to leave will really have to leave within 72 hours. They have to make up their minds,” he said.
“Ang iniiwasan po natin ay involuntarily stranded here (What we’re trying to avoid is being involuntarily stranded here). We are giving them 72 hours to fly. We assume that after 72 hours, it is your decision to stay here,” he added.
The DOTr also said that only Filipinos, their spouses and children, holders of a permanent resident visa, and foreign diplomats will be allowed entry in Luzon airports from an international flight.
“Only Filipino passengers shall be allowed entry,” Libiran said.
However, she stressed that no Filipinos will be allowed to leave via Luzon airports.
“Ang instruction (The instruction is), no Filipinos shall be allowed to leave the country,” Libiran noted.
Philippine airports cancel domestic flights
The Philippine Airlines announced Tuesday that it will cancel all of its domestic flights amid the enhanced community quarantine enforced in Luzon.
“In compliance with the Philippine government’s Enhanced Community Quarantine measure over the Region of Luzon, including Metro Manila, ALL DOMESTIC FLIGHTS of Philippine Airlines are CANCELLED effective immediately until April 12, 2020,” said PAL in its statement.
“We continue to operate INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS up to midnight of March 20, 2020. We will announce in due course the status of our international flights from March 20 up to April 12, as we are presently coordinating with government authorities on the relevant implementing details,” it added.
Budget airline Cebu Pacific also announced the cancellation of its domestic and international flights from March 19 to April 14, “in support of government regulations on COVID-19.”
“The Philippine government recently implemented Enhanced Community Quarantine over Luzon, and similar directives across various provinces in the country. We are ensuring the safety of our passengers and operations teams, in compliance with the stricter quarantine measures, land travel restrictions and regulations in place,” it said in its statement.
It added, “The last day of operations will be on March 18, 2020, where Cebu Pacific will operate the following flights from Manila Bangkok, Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Ho Chi Minh, Singapore, Taipei, Bali, and Jakarta.”