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All international airports in Phl closed to passenger flights

03 May 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

NAIA was empty today except for a few security personnel 

All commercial flights to and from all international airports in the Philippines have been canceled as of 8am today, May 3, and will be allowed to resume only after a week. The government says the move is meant to decongest quarantine facilities now holding around 20,000 overseas Filipino workers.

This means, aircraft carrying commercial passengers are no longer being allowed to land or take off from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila, as well as the airports in Davao, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Cebu, and Kalibo in Aklan.
The decision to shut the airports was posted in the NAIA Facebook page at 11:50 of May 2, barely eight hours before the lockdown was due to take effect.

The move comes as the total number of infections in the Philippines rose to 9,223 as of today, with 4 new deaths and 90 recoveries. A total of 1,214 patients have recovered, while 607 have died.
 
Covid-19 tally as of May 3
According to a subsequent announcement from Secretary Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the National Task Force against Covid-19, the airport closure is intended to free up space in the quarantine centers.

“The new flight restriction is only temporary and will be implemented for one week to give the government the opportunity to decongest the quarantine facilities in Metro Manila,” said the statement issued by his office.
All returning overseas Filipino workers, mostly seafarers who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic, are being put in the quarantine camps which are scattered across Metro Manila and nearby cities in Luzon, for 14 days.

“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…OFWs are well taken care of when they arrive from abroad,” said the statement.

Strangely, other Filipino nationals who are not OFWs are being allowed to go to their homes on arrival at NAIA.
 
Only OFWs are put in quarantine centers as soon as they arrive in the Philippines

The flight ban does not apply (1) when an emergency occurs en route; (2) to cargo flights, (3) air ambulance and medical supplies flights, (4) weather tracking flights, (5) maintenance flights, and (6) sweeper flights for foreign nationals being repatriated to their home countries.

On top of this, all exempted international flights that wish to land or depart must request exemption with the civil aeronautics authority at least 36 hours before the scheduled departure from their place of origin.

The statement said further updates will be provided by the NTF and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).


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