THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday clarified the lifting of the travel ban for mainland China, saying only returning overseas Filipino workers (OFW), holders of permanent resident visas and government officials were covered.

Students, OFWs dependents, tourists and first-time workers were still barred from going there, the agency said in a statement.

A total travel ban to Hubei Province, the center of the coronavirus outbreak, remained, it said.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on March 12 approved a resolution issued by an inter-agency task force made up of Cabinet officials lifting the travel ban. Eligible travelers must sign a document signifying their understanding of the health risks.

DFA noted that on top of the notarized document, OFWs who opt to return to China must present valid visas and work permits, an overseas employment certificate and other documents.

“These guidelines are regularly reviewed by the Inter-Agency Task Force and any changes will be communicated in due course.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Eduardo Martin R. Meñez told reporters in a group message they were verifying reports that four Filipinos who had returned to China tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019.

The Immigration bureau on March 13 imposed travel restrictions on passengers from Italy and Iran by requiring them to present a medical certificate issued in the past 48 hours.

This won’t apply to Filipinos, their spouse and children, holders of Philippine permanent resident visas and members of diplomatic corps, unless they are transiting passengers.

Restrictions were also imposed on foreigners arriving from China, Macau, Hong Kong, and North Gyeongsang Province, Daegu and Cheongdo in South Korea.

Filipinos were still banned from traveling to Macau and Hong Kong unless they are holders of permanent resident or student visas, or are OFWs working there. — Charmaine A. Tadalan