MANILA – Filipinos will now be allowed to travel to South Korea except the whole of North Gyeongsang after the government relaxed its temporary travel ban on the East Asian country, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the recommendation was made by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) after holding a meeting at the Department of Health Central Office on Tuesday on efforts to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
“The IATF has approved to allow Filipinos to travel to South Korea except to the whole of North Gyeongsang Province, including Daegu City and Cheongdo County, where the virus outbreak is concentrated,” Panelo said in a statement.
He said Filipinos who intend to visit other parts of South Korea will be required to execute and sign a declaration, signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved in their trip. A health advisory pamphlet will also be handed out to them upon their departure.
However, he said the ban on the entry of foreign nationals traveling from North Gyeongsang Province, including Daegu City and Cheongdo County, into Philippine territory remains effective.
South Korean remains as the Philippines’ top source of tourist arrivals followed by China and the US.
There are 60,139 Filipinos living in South Korea, data from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) showed.
On Tuesday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in declared “war” against the deadly disease and placed all government agencies on a 24-hour emergency footing as the country’s total cases reached 5,000, the largest in the world outside China, with 28 fatalities.
Besides North Gyeongsang, the Philippines also temporary banned foreign nationals coming from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao.
Exempted from the travel ban are arriving Filipinos with their foreign spouse and children, permanent residents in the country, and members of the diplomatic corps.
Currently, the IATF has also agreed that there are to be no new imposition or lifting of travel restrictions to other countries amid rising cases in South Korea, Italy and Iran.
The IATF will regularly conduct reviews concerning travel restrictions and protocols to and from the Philippines, he added.
Meanwhile, he said the DFA is now preparing for the repatriation of 148 Filipinos from Macao via chartered flight.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is arranging to repatriate 48 of its active members in Macao via one commercial flight.
Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the countries mentioned may opt for repatriation provided they undergo the prescribed 14-day quarantine procedure.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the risk assessment of Covid-19 to “very high” at both the world and regional levels. There nearly 90,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in about 70 countries and over 3,000 deaths. (PNA)