PH travel ban on 35 countries with new variants to end Jan. 31

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AS THE end of the travel ban on arriving foreigners from 36 areas affected by new and more contagious variants of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) nears, around 1,200 passengers have arrived at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) from these areas with travel restrictions.

GMR Megawide, MCIA’s operator, said all the passengers were returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs). Hence, they were exempt from the ban, which will end on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021. Also exempt are spouses of Filipino citizens.

The country’s Covid-19 Task Force first implemented the travel ban on passengers coming from the United Kingdom (UK) at the end of December in a bid to prevent the entry of the new, highly contagious UK variant.

The travel ban expanded to 34 more countries, plus the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, that officially announced the detection of confirmed cases of the UK and other variants.

Currently, the MCIA has flights to and from Doha, Qatar four times a week; Dubai, United Arab Emirates, twice a week; Hong Kong, twice a week; and Singapore, once a week.

As of Thursday, Jan. 28, there were 25 transiting and quarantine hotels for ROFs and balikbayans with a total bed capacity of 1,192.

Ten of the hotels are located in Cebu City, while 15 are in Lapu-Lapu City.

The Cebu City-based transiting hotels allocated 706 beds, while the Lapu-Lapu City hotels allocated 486 beds.

Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu president Carlo Suarez said the bed allocation is more than enough for ROFs and balikbayans. (JOB)