The Philippines is in a slight state of unrest because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The government has been very vague with contradicting statements from different authoritative bodies that people are left confused about what is to be done.
With Metro Manila in lockdown (or community quarantine as they say) and all kinds of transportation being monitored through checkpoints, it’s hard to imagine that commuters and travelers alike are having a bad time.
President Duterte, in an announcement on March 12, 2020, expanded the travel ban to include all countries with cases of local transmissions. This was immediately blanketed by another announcement clarifying that the travel ban expansion will only encompass Italy and Iran instead of all countries with known local transmissions of the COVID-19.
To be clear, here are the countries that are currently included in the Philippine Travel Ban:
- Hong Kong
- North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea
Italy and Iran are the two countries that have suffered the most after China. With 20,000 and 8,000 active cases, and 1,800 and 700 confirmed deaths as of March 16, 2020.
Though in the ban list, travelers of Italy and Iran can still enter the Philippines given that they present a medical certificate that confirms that they have tested negative for COVID-19.
Filipino citizens, permanent resident visa holders, and holders of diplomatic visas issued by the Philippines are exempted from these restrictions.
Saudi Arabia has also imposed a travel ban on 12 other countries including the Philippines in light of the widespread COVID-19.
Only “health workers returning from to Saudi Arabia from the Philippines and India as well as evacuation shipping and trade ships” are exempted from travel restrictions.
Because of the very infectious nature of the COVID-19, airlines and transport groups have been deciding on how they can help.
Philippine Airlines has been canceling both international and domestic flights. The most recent is the cancellation of Bacolod flights to and from Cebu and Clark from March 16 to 18.
For a detailed list of canceled domestic flights from Philippine Airlines, you can follow their Facebook page. Below are their two advisories regarding domestic flight cancellations:
Ticketholders affected by these evaluations have a few options. First, they provided a one-time free rebooking for select international and domestic flights.
More recently, they have been given an option where they can place the unused value of their ticket into a voucher for future travel use. They also allow the rerouting of their ticket on the same fare class without rerouting charges.
Cebu Pacific announced last March 15, 2020, that they will be canceling all of their domestic flights to and from Manila from March 15 to April 14 in line with the efforts of the Philippine government to contain the spread of COVID-19.
They have a full list of continuing routes on their website.
Cebu Pacific ticketholders have more options than those from PAL because they are given the option to get a full refund, something that a lot of PAL ticketholders have been asking for.
They can also store the value of their ticket in a Travel Fund which can be valid for 180 days or re-book the flight with change fees and fare differences waived.
Cebu Pacific released a nice little graphic detailing how they could get a full refund!
It’s hard, but people need to realize that the COVID-19 outbreak is not a joke. As much as traveling can bring happiness to people through exploration and relationship building, it’s also one of the main reasons why the coronavirus has become so widespread.
In line with this, we at the Pointsboys would like to remind everyone that for now, we all need to focus on our health. Wash your hands, bring some rubbing alcohol with you wherever you go, and always be careful!