Flights at Manila and all other international airports were suspended for a week starting 8 a.m. today, to decongest quarantine facilities, the task force implementing the Covid-19 response said.

“This decision is meant to decongest our quarantine facilities to protect our people by preventing the further spread of Covid-19 and also ensure that our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are well taken cared of when they arrive from abroad,” the National Task Force Against Covid-19 said in a statement.

Some 20,000 OFWs are undergoing mandatory quarantine in Metro Manila, it said.

The suspension does not cover 1) emergencies while en route; (2) cargo flights; (3) air ambulance and medical supplies flights; (4) weather mitigation flights; and (5) maintenance Flights. Also allowed to continue are sweeper flights for foreign nationals repatriating back to their respective countries.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said international flights seeking to land and depart must request exemption at least 36 hours before the scheduled departure from their place of origin.

The Manila International Airport Authority announced the ban at 11:50 pm on Saturday, May 2, merely eight hours before the flight ban took effect.

The CAAP, in a Notice to Airmen (Notam) it issued today, said the ban would last until 8 a.m. of May 10.

Airports covered by the Notam are the Ninoy Aquino (Manila), Davao, Clark, Mactan-Cebu, Kalibo, Iloilo, Laoag, Puerto Princesa and Zamboanga international airports. John Ezekiel J. Hirro,