By Fernan Angeles
THE government has finally lifted travel restrictions abroad, but with conditions.
In a Palace statement, the inter-agency task force leading the country’s COVID-19 pandemic response said that non-essential overseas travel of Filipinos will be allowed starting next week.
The move, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said, will potentially increase customers for Philippine carriers that have suffered amid the pandemic.
The IATF, which met Thursday, “lifted the restriction of non-essential outbound travel of Filipinos effective October 21, 2020,” Roque said.
Travelers should submit the following, he said:
• Confirmed roundtrip tickets
• Travel and health insurance for those traveling with tourist visas
• Immigration declaration acknowledging the risks involved in traveling
• Negative Antigen result taken within 24 hours before departure
“Outbound Filipino travelers shall likewise follow the Guidelines of the National Task Force (NTF) for returning overseas Filipinos,” said Roque.
The IATF decision ends an outbound travel restriction in effect since July.
The Philippines is forecast to see a 6.9 percent economic contraction this year, the World Bank has said, the biggest since the 1980s and worse than the government’s projected 5.5 percent decline.
Its recovery has been constrained by an unrelenting first wave of infections since March, with more than 340,000 cases, Southeast Asia’s second highest number, limiting its ability to fully reopen businesses, and restart domestic and international tourism.