Filipino migrant workers can now return to their employers in Hong Kong and Macau after the Philippines lifted temporary travel ban to and from the two administrative regions in China.

The travel ban was imposed on February 2 by President Duterte in the quest to fight the entry of the COVID-19 in the country. 

Foreign Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns Brigido Dulay Jr. shared the news on Twitter. He said that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases had agreed to lift the ban only for vacationing OFWs from Hong Kong and Macau.

Hong Kong gives better care

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. later tweeted that the migrant workers should sign health waivers as both cities reported new coronavirus cases. The COVID-19 has already killed over 2,000 individuals and infected more than 72,000 in China.

“Don’t worry, they’ll sign health waivers but we won’t waive our obligation to take care of them wherever they are,” Locsin said. However, he added that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) “will never abandon them” if ever they acquire the disease.

“Filipino migrant maids and nannies are going back to Hong Kong, where I argued, they’ll be better cared for. Period,” he said.

Presidential spox Salvador Panelo said the interagency task force agreed to partially lift the ban to allow OFWs to return to their jobs in Hong Kong and Macau.

Also, he added that the ban has been eased because of the migrant workers’ “persistent requests.”

Panelo assured that the government would still come to the aid of the Filipino workers despite the waivers if needed.

The Department of Health (DOH)-led task force also exempted the foreign spouses and children of Filipinos living in Hong Kong and Macau, students studying in the two cities, and diplomats from there from the ban.

However, the families of Filipinos and the diplomats entering the Philippines will be put under quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

The task force said the ban was eased after a “thorough risk assessment of the current situation.”

On Tuesday the Immigration Bureau began implementing the resolution. However, tourist travel in two administrative regions of China is still prohibited.

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