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President Rodrigo Duterte during his public address on March 12

President Rodrigo Duterte on March 12 has suspended land and domestic air and sea travel to and from Metro Manila from March 15 to April 14 to stop the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Philippines.

The decision is subject to daily assessment, the President said.

Domestic cargo shipments are exempt from the travel restrictions.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, in a text message, said food and non-food cargoes are “ok to move.”

But Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) general manager Atty. Jay Daniel Santiago, in a text message to PortCalls, said they are still “trying to clarify” the coverage of the travel restriction.

“Based on the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) resolution, foreign ships bringing cargoes into the Philippines are not mentioned, so therefore no ban. Domestic cargo we are seeking clarification but I will assume no ban also, otherwise it will be a logistics nightmare,” Santiago said.

Department of Transportation (DOTr) assistant secretary Goddes Hope Libiran, in a message to PortCalls, said the transport department’s road sector and the Department of Health will meet tomorrow (March 13) to define implementation guidelines.

Updates will be provided once guidelines are available, Libiran said.

Philippine Airlines, in an advisory to passengers, said it is coordinating with government authorities to obtain official guidelines on domestic air travel to and from Metro Manila.

The President’s announcement followed the raising of COVID-19 alert level to the maximum Code Red Sublevel 2, placing Metro Manila in a “community quarantine” as recommended by the IATF.

An executive order will be issued soon to operationalize the order.

The travel restriction covers 16 cities and one municipality of Metro Manila, as prescribed by the IATF in its Resolution No. 11 approved by Duterte on March 12.

Mass transportation within Metro Manila, including the rail systems, will continue but social distancing guidelines should be followed.

Local government units (LGU) outside Metro Manila were advised to follow the following guidelines in imposing localized community quarantine in their respective jurisdictions:

• A barangay-wide quarantine when there are at least two COVID-19 cases belonging to different households in the same barangay
• A municpality/city-wide quarantine when there are at least two COVID-19 cases belonging to different barangays in the same municipality/city
• A province-wide quarantine when there are at least two COVID-19 cases belonging to different municipalities, component cities or independent component cities in the same province.

Classes in Metro Manila will remain suspended until April 12.

Work in the Executive Department will be suspended for a month from March 12.

The President also banned mass gatherings or “planned or spontaneous event where the number of people attending could strain the planning and response resources of the community hosting the event.”

The World Health Organization now considers COVID-19 a pandemic, which has infected more than 125,000 people and killed 4,600 across 115 countries.- Roumina Pablo

2 Responses to “Domestic travel to/from MM suspended; cargo shipments exempt”

  1. I want to travel to Dipolog Mindanao from England United Kingdom (UK) after 15 march 2020. Is this no longer possible because of domestic travel restriction?
    I normally fly by Emirates airline from Newcastle, UK, (NCLUK) to Dubai (DBX), then Dubai to Manila Ninoy Aquino and finally Manila to Dipolog, Mindanao.
    If you could give me any information or direct me to a link, I would be most grateful, Many thanks,

    Dr Aidan P Cooney

    • Thanks for your inquiry. You will not be able to travel from Manila to Dipolog as all domestic flights to and from Metro Manila are suspended until April 14.


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