Updated on April 9, 2020:
***The enhanced community quarantine has been extended from Metro Manila to over Luzon, and the quarantine period will be extended until April 30, according to CNN Philippines.”
Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Thursday evening that travel restrictions will be put in place in Metropolitan Manila (Metro Manila) to contain the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).
According to CNN Philippines, over 12 million people living in Metro Manila will not be allowed in and out of the region by land, local air travel and local sea travel starting from midnight on March 15 until April 14 as the region is placed under community quarantine.
Metro Manila is officially the National Capital Region (NCR) of the Philippines where the government of Philippines is based. It is composed of 17 political units, including Manila, Caloocan, Las Pinas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Paranaque, Pasay, Pateros, Quezon City, Pasig, San Juan, Taguig and Valenzuela.
As of March 12, the Covid-19 virus has resulted in 52 confirmed cases and five deaths in the Philippines, according to South China Morning Post.
CNN Philippines also reported that the Philippines has expanded its travel ban to all countries “which have localised transmission of the viral disease”.
According to the news report, all foreign nationals coming from countries reporting local transmission of Covid-19 cannot enter the country, except Filipino citizens, their foreign spouse and children, permanent residents and holders of diplomatic visas.
Philippines’ cabinet secretary Karlo Nograles said today that international travel into Metro Manila will be allowed but “subject to travel restrictions”, while Filipinos flying home from abroad will be allowed but “subject to quarantine restrictions”, and foreigners flying to their home countries abroad will also be allowed to leave, according to CNN Philippines.
Nograles added that anyone flying into the Philippines via Manila Airport will remain in Metro Manila. He suggested those whose final destination is outside of Metro Manila to fly in via Clark, Cebu or other airports directly.
Two major Filipino airlines, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, said that the government may temporarily suspend domestic flights to and from Manila and that they are waiting for more details.
Philippine Airlines, the country’s national airline, said the following in a tweet posted to its official twitter account on Thursday:
In a press release, the airline said that its international flights and domestic flights on routes to and from Cebu, Clark and Davao (other than Manila) shall continue to operate within the lockdown period.
The airline advises affected passengers with flights between March 15 and April 14 to choose from the following options:
- Rebook their flight to a new travel date after April 14, with rebooking fees waived.
- Refund the full cost of the ticket, with refund fees waived.
- Reroute their ticket on the same fare class, though fare difference rules apply.
Another Filipino carrier Cebu Pacific said it is “awaiting official advise” from government regulators, and will provide updates “as soon as possible”.
Prior to the lockdown announcement, the carrier said customers travelling to the Philippines and international destinations from March 10 to April 30 this year, who wish to rebook or cancel their flights can choose from the following options:
- Free rebooking with change fees waived, though payment for fare differences may apply.
- Putting the full cost of the ticket in a “travel fund”, which can be redeemed within 180 days and can be used for re-bookings for up to 12 months.
It added that customers who booked or will book flights between March 10 and April 30 this year can avail the “CEB Flexi” option during booking, which, according to the airline, enables travellers to rebook their flights up to two times, though passengers may have to pay for fare differences.
Business Traveller Asia-Pacific will update this article when there is more information. Affected passengers are advised to contact the airline they are flying with for more information.