Domestic commercial flights are still prohibited until May 15 owing to the coronavirus pandemic, Malacañang said Tuesday.
“Until the 15th there are no commercial flights, but I’m sure the relevant transportation authorities will come up with their guidelines by May 16,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a televised briefing.
Commercial flights have been suspended since March when President Rodrigo Duterte imposed strict confinement measures in Luzon. Other local government units followed suit.
But on April 30, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade ordered the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and other airport authorities to seriously consider the reopening of airports in areas covered by the general community quarantine to accommodate commercial aviation operations.
This developed as 373 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Singapore and Japan arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminal 1 on Tuesday on board three separate commercial flights.
The first to arrive was Jetstar Asia 3K 761 from Singapore around 9:50 a.m. carrying some 147 OFWs. Most were women, including 5 women who are expected to give birth next month and in July.
Singapore Airlines SQ 910 arrived at 12:50 p.m. carrying 194 OFWs, followed by Japan Airlines flight JAL 741 arrived 12:55 a.m. from Narita, Japan carrying 32 passengers.
The 373 OFWs underwent swab testing after the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) personnel collected yellow health card containing vital information of every passenger. They proceeded to the immigration counters for stamping of passports and waited for their transportation to a nearby hotel for more quarantine checks.
Jem Paguio, 31, of Antipolo City and a restaurant manager in Singapore, said she and here longtime boyfriend were about to get married last March 28, but due to the COVID lockdown, they postponed their wedding till next year.
Roque announced in his regular press briefing that the government would lift the quarantine in 41 provinces and 11 cities across the country with low risk for COVID-19 disease transmission.
Thirty-eight provinces and 12 cities classified under moderate risk will remain under general community quarantine from May 16 to 31.
High-risk areas Metro Manila, Laguna, and Cebu City will be placed under modified enhanced community quarantine also from May 16 to 31.