Overseas visitors planning to visit the Philippines from next month will need to make sure they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before travelling.
From February 16, only foreigners who have been immunised at least 14 days before travel will be allowed entry into the Philippines. This does not apply to Filipino citizens, and there are other exemptions.
The new rule was announced by acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles at a press briefing on Friday.
He also explained a series of other updates to the country's travel rules, including reducing pre-departure PCR testing times from 72 to 48 hours, and adding countries to the red and green lists for travel, with India placed on the green list and Saudi Arabia turning red.
Exemptions to the new mandated vaccination rule for foreigners include diplomats and their dependents, children and people who can't be vaccinated for health reasons.
Most international tourism to the Philippines remains suspended and tourism visas are not being issued owing to the global pandemic.
Only a small demographic of foreigners can currently visit the Philippines, and from February, they will need to be fully vaccinated. This includes people with pre-existing visas, those registered under the Balikbayan Programme as former Filipino citizens, their foreign spouses or children and those with a special resident or retiree visa or an entry exemption document issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Saudi Arabia added to Philippines red list but no travel ban
The country's red list has also been updated, with 14 new destinations, including Saudi Arabia, Canada and Spain being added to the list, which will be in effect from January 16 until at least January 31.
Inclusion on the list no longer means that travel is prohibited from these destinations, but that additional measures must be followed to visit the Philippines. There are separate rules in place for vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers from red list countries.
Eligible vaccinated travellers must have a negative result from a PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure, undergo a seven-day facility-based quarantine on arrival and take a follow-up PCR test on the seventh day. If the result is negative, travellers will be sent home and must continue to isolate until the 14th day.
Those who have not been vaccinated or are only partially vaccinated when they fly must show a negative PCR result from a test taken no more than 48 hours before departure, and undergo 10 days of facility-based quarantine. After a negative PCR test result, they will be allowed to complete the last four days of quarantine at home.
India added to green list for quarantine-free travel
More destinations were also added to the Philippines green list in the most recent update.
India, Indonesia and Japan were added to the list from where travel is open without quarantine for eligible vaccinated travellers. Instead of isolation, travellers need only self-monitor for symptoms for seven days upon return.
From January 16 to January 31, the Philippines green list is as follows:
British Virgin Islands
Saba (Special Municipality of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
On Thursday, CNN reported that the country's Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases would discuss whether the government travel ban will continue.
The Philippines has experienced a recent surge in infections, with a record 34,021 cases reported on Thursday, the highest since the start of the pandemic, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University.