In an effort to reduce the increase in COVID-19 infections, the Philippine government suspended all incoming international arrivals to the country's airports for one week.

The temporary suspension started on May 3 and will be effective until May 9 covering the country's 9 airports that are designated for international flights. This includes the following airports: Manila, Clark, Davao, Iloilo, Cebu, Zamboanga, Kalibo, Laoag, and Puerto Princesa.

Among the reasons cited for the suspension was to address the stress on government authorities handling incoming arrivals of Filipino citizens returning to the country.

“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 overseas Filipino workers are well taken care of when they arrive from abroad,” Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. of the Philippine National Task Force against COVID -19 said in a statement on Sunday.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has made exemptions for flights handling cargo, medicines, utility, maintenance, and sweeper flights for repatriating foreigners stranded in the country.

“The move is deemed necessary in order to ensure that our country will not experience a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the increasing number of international passenger arrivals. It should be noted that most of our repatriated citizens are coming from countries which experienced significant COVID-19 outbreak,” the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said in a statement.

The new temporary travel ban will affect international flights as domestic flights within the country has been suspended since March 16.

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