MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government has lifted the travel restrictions it imposed on Taiwan due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Malacañang announced Friday.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has resolved to lift the travel restrictions imposed upon Taiwan because of strict measures being undertaken by the Taiwanese government to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Panelo said the lifting of the ban is effective immediately.
“Accordingly, travel may now be made by any national to Taiwan from the Philippines and vice versa,” he said.
The Philippines this week included Taiwan in its travel restrictions initially imposed on China and its special administrative regions affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
A Philippine health official explained that Taiwan was included in the ban as the World Health Organization recognizes it as a part of China.
Malacañang later on said the temporary ban was imposed for the safety of the Filipino people and not due to politics.
The travel restriction was criticized by Taiwan, stressing that it had only 18 cases of the virus compared to some 60,000 in China.
Taiwan threatened to implement countermeasures against the Philippines, including scrapping visa-free privileges for Filipinos if it keeps the entry ban.
Several Filipinos currently working and those en route to Taiwan also appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to lift the ban, expressing fears of losing their jobs.
Panelo also said the task force would also evaluate on whether to lift the ban on other Chinese jurisdictions given preventive protocols implemented against the deadly virus.
“The Office of the President likewise stresses that any resolution relative to travel restrictions in connection with the COVID-19 shall be subjected to regular review by the IATF,” he said.