The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) agreed to extend the travel restrictions to seven more countries until December 15 due to the rise of the new coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) variant Omicron. 

The following countries included in the red list of travel restrictions are Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy. Other countries listed in the red list are the African nations of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique.

Cabinet Secretary and acting Palace spokesperson Karlo Nograles said inbound international travel of any tourist from these countries within the last 14 days are not allowed—vaccinated or not. 

“Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation and Bayanihan Flights may be allowed entry subject to the prevailing entry, testing, and quarantine protocols for Red List countries, jurisdictions, or territories,” he said.

Tourists coming from these red list countries within 14 days prior to their arrival in the country are not included in the restriction. However, upon landing, they are mandated to undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days and Covid-19 testing on the 7th day. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has named the recently found B1.1.529 variant Omicron, which was first located in South Africa. 

“With Omicron designated as a Variant of Concern, the IATF likewise approved the recommendations to strengthen local COVID-19 response,” Nograles said.

The Bureau of Quarantine, together with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and LGUs, were tasked to identify and locate passengers who arrived within 14 days prior Monday from the listed red countries, and mandate them to undergo a home quarantine set-up for 14 days from date of arrival and must also perform RT-PCR if symptoms start to appear. Ronald Espartinez