Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) with existing job contracts in Hong Kong and Macau are now able to return to said territories amid the Philippine government’s easing of the travel ban.
Department Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concern Brigido Dulay said in a Twitter post on Tuesday that OFWs in the special administrative regions (SAR) are now exempted from the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF-EID) travel ban.
The ban remains in effect for those traveling as tourists to the two countries.
“Today, DFA [Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s] advocacy has come true. OFWs returning for work in Hong Kong and Macau have been exempted from the outbound travel ban by the IATF-EID, subject to certain procedural formalities,” he said.
In a separate statement, the Department of Health said the new policy was decided upon in a meeting earlier in the day.
“The Task Force also agreed to authorize travel to Hong Kong and Macau for permanent residents of the respective Special Administrative Regions, Filipinos leaving abroad for study, and OFWs, provided that the travelers sign a declaration signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved,” the DOH said.
The Task Force also resolved to allow Filipinos and their foreign spouses and children to enter the Philippines, provided that they will undergo a two-week quarantine. Initially, only Filipinos and holders of permanent resident visas are allowed to travel to the Philippines.
Meanwhile, the DOH assured the repatriation of 538 Filipino crews aboard the MV Diamond Princess that docked in Yokohama, Japan.
“We will closely coordinate with concerned offices and local government units to provide a seamless and efficient repatriation plan for our [countrymen] ,” the DOH said, adding that it will follow strict screening measures and quarantine procedures to ensure the safety of Filipinos aboard the cruise ship.