Travel ban now includes Taiwan

February 11, 2020

THE TRAVEL ban had been expanded by the Bureau of Immigration that it now includes tourists from Taiwan, after confirming with its mother department, the Department of Justice.

Last February 2, the BI implemented an order from President Rodrigo Duterte in banning all foreign nationals coming from China, as well as its Special Administrative Regions.

In the said order, any passenger of any nationality who has been to China, Hong Kong and Macau within 14 days before coming to the Philippines shall automatically be denied entry.  Only Filipino citizens and aliens with permanent resident visas from said countries may be allowed entry.

Permanent resident aliens are those who were issued immigrant visas under the Philippine immigration act;, those who are residents following the alien legalization program under EO 324 or the alien social integration program under RA 7919; holders of native born visas; aliens who acquired permanent resident status by reasons of marriage to a Filipino and aliens with approved refugee status.

However, questions from different agencies sought clarification if Taiwan is included in the ban.

While not explicitly stated, the BI said it confirmed with the Secretary of Justice that Taiwan is indeed part of the ban and the expansion shall be implemented immediately and will follow the same procedure.

Under the guidelines, if a foreign passenger not exempted from the ban is encountered at the ports, he or she shall automatically denied entry and returned to his port of origin.  Filipinos and aliens who are exempted from the ban shall be turned over to the Bureau of Quarantine for their assessment, together with a copy of their arrival cards.

Filipinos are likewise temporarily not allowed to leave for China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan unless they are part of a government delegation conducting official duties or a member of the World Health Organization and other agencies involved in fighting or containing the 2019 nCoV-ARD.

Meanwhile, In support of government efforts to manage the risks from the novel coronavirus and the inclusion of Taiwan in the travel ban, all Cebu Pacific flights between Taipei and Manila are cancelled effective February 11 until further notice, specifically: Manila-Taipei (5J 312 and) 5J 310) and Taipei-Manila (5J 311 and 5J 313).

CEB spokesperson Ma. Rosario Lagamon said travel restrictions imposed by the Philippine government include barring Filipino nationals from travelling  to Taiwan, including our flight and cabin crew; barring the entry of foreign nationals, except permanent resident visa holders who come directly from Taiwan or have been there within 14 days immediately preceeding arrival in the Philippines.

Lagamon said passengers on cancelled Cebu Pacific flights between Taipei and Manila are being notified through the contact details provided upon booking and that they may also check the status of their flights through the Manage Booking portal in the Cebu Pacific website, https://book.cebupacificair.com/Manage/Retrieve/.                                           

The following options are made available for passengers on cancelled flights: rebook the flight (new flight date until Jun 30, 2020); refund the tickets in full or store the value of the ticket in a Travel Fund for future use.

Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines (PAL) said it was constrained to cancel all its flights between Manila and Taipei effective until further notice.  These cancelled flights are PR890/891 Manila-Taipei-Manila and PR894/895 Manila-Taipei-Manila.

PAL spokesperson Ma. Cielo Villaluna said the expanded directive temporarily bans the entry of any person, regardless of nationality — - except Filipino citizens and holders of Permanent Resident Visa issued by the Philippine Government —  who come directly from Greater China, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, or who had been to China including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan within 14 days prior to their arrival in the Philippines.

“We advise passengers with flights to and from Taiwan from February 11 onwards to await the lifting of the ban. If your flight was cancelled, you may refund your ticket at any time, with refund fees waived.  Once the travel ban is lifted and we reinstate our flights, you may rebook, reroute, or refund your ticket within your ticket’s validity period, with rebooking, rerouting or refund fees waive,’Villaluna said.

For tickets purchased through travel agencies, she said passengesr may  contact their travel agent for rebooking  rerouting or refunding while for tickets purchased through PAL website, one may contact hotline (+632) 8855-8888 for rebooking, rerouting or refunding.

‘ Those who bought tickets from PAL ticketing offices may go to the nearest PAL office while PAL passengers who are in Taipei and whose flights to Manila have been cancelled as a result of the travel ban may contact PAL Taipei reservations at 02-2506-7255 or 8862-2506-7255.

For passengers departing Manila for the United States, Villaluna said that upon check-in,  passengers will need to accomplish a Public Health Declaration Form which must be submitted to PAL’s airport personnel to complete the check-in process for your flight to the U.S.A. ‘These declaration forms are a new regulatory requirement of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  All foreign carriers are required to collect and submit the forms  along with certain data regarding passengers and crew to the U.S. authorities, as part of a public health reporting system.  Rest assured that all information required will be used only in accordance with applicable laws,’ Villaluna said.