File photo

MANILA – Non-essential outbound travel has been suspended by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) anew, Malacañang said on Thursday.

In a virtual Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said non-essential outbound travel was suspended because only one travel and health insurance company has agreed to cover rebooking and accommodation expenses if passenger is stranded and hospitalized due to coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

“Ang malungkot na balita po, iisang insurance company lamang sa Pilipinas ang pumayag ng ganitong travel and health insurance kaya sinuspendi muna ng IATF ang non-essential outbound travel (The sad news is that only one insurance company in the Philippines agreed to this travel and health insurance that’s why the IATF suspended non-essential outbound travel),” he said.

Roque did not name the travel and health insurance firm that agreed to cover expenses in case a passenger is infected with Covid-19.

However, he said passengers with confirmed bookings as of July 20 will be allowed to travel outside the country.

“Suspendido muna po ang non-essential travel hanggang makahanap po tayo ng mas maraming insurance companies (Non-essential travel will be suspended until we find more insurance companies willing to provide coverage),” he said.

Roque said he will leave the job of encouraging more travel and health insurance companies to the Insurance Commission.

“Ipadadala po natin ang communication sa Insurance Commission para sila na po ang humingi sa mga insurance companies na kinakailangan magbigay ng ganitong insurance coverage (We will send the communication to the Insurance Commission so that they will ask insurance companies to give this type of insurance coverage),” he said.

Earlier this month, the IATF lifted the ban on non-essential outbound travel imposed last March due to Covid-19 outbreak.

Non-essential travel was initially allowed as long as passengers submit confirmed round-trip tickets for those traveling on tourist visas, travel and health insurance, proof of allowed entry by the destination country, and a declaration acknowledging the risks involved in traveling.

Meanwhile, Roque said the IATF approved the essential outbound travel of Filipinos, subject to certain conditions.

Passengers should execute a Bureau of Immigration (BI) declaration acknowledging the risks involved in traveling, including the risk of delay in their return trip, to be provided for at the check-in counters by the airlines, he said.

They should also follow the guidelines of returning overseas Filipinos of the National Task Force (NTF) upon their return.

He urged Filipinos traveling abroad to observe quarantine protocols such as physical distancing, wearing face masks, and frequent hand-washing. (PNA)