MANILA — The Philippine government on Wednesday announced that it has banned all travelers coming from North Gyeongsang province in South Korea.
“The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) met today (Wednesday) and it has approved to impose a ban on the entry of travelers coming from the North Gyeongsang province of South Korea into the Philippine territory effective immediately,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
He said the task force is set to conduct a reassessment of the situation within 48 hours to determine if it is necessary to extend the travel ban to other areas in the East Asian country.
In the meantime, he said strict protocol with respect to travelers entering the country from these areas in South Korea will continue to be observed.
Pinoy tourists barred from traveling to SoKor
Filipino tourists are also banned from traveling to any part of South Korea, including Jeju Island.
However, the task force has authorized Filipinos to travel to South Korea provided they are permanent residents thereof, leaving for study, or are overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), he said.
“Tourists, lahat ng pupunta run [bawal] (All tourists bound for South Korea are prohibited) except for the three na binanggit ko kanina (which I mentioned earlier),” he said when asked for clarification.
Those allowed to travel to South Korea would have to execute and sign a declaration signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risk involved prior to their travel, he added.
Panelo admitted that the temporary travel restriction is bound to affect tourism numbers since South Korea remains the country’s top source market with a total of 1.98 million arrivals in 2019.
However, he said the safety and security of the Filipinos here and abroad remain the government’s primary concern.
“It will be affected but as we always say, we have to secure the safety of those coming here and leaving this country to Korea,” he said.
Meanwhile, the government’s temporary travel ban on mainland China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macao remains in effect.
However, permanent residents, students, and OFWs are exempted from the ban.
Taiwan was also placed under a temporary travel restriction but it was eventually lifted.
Last week, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the Philippine government will reconsider the travel ban imposed on Hong Kong and Macao.
She said the lifting would be based on the protocols of the two territories in containing the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Reports showed as of Wednesday, there are 1,146 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in South Korea, the largest number of cases outside China.
The vast majority of the new cases were in Daegu, the country’s fourth-largest city and the epicenter of the outbreak, and the neighboring province of North Gyeongsang. (IAMIGO/sovereignph.com/PNA)