MANILA - The Philippines is considering lifting its travel ban on Macau once the casino hub implements strict measures against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the country's labor minister said Sunday.
"Sa Macau, napakataas ng possibility. It was just a matter of considering the protocols to be observed para ma-lift yung travel ban sa Macau," Labor Secretary Silvestro Bello III said on Sunday.
("For Macau, the possibility (to lift the travel ban) is very high. It was just a matter of considering the protocols to be observed so that the travel ban on Macau can be lifted.")
Speaking to radio DZMM, Bello said, "Hinihintay na lang yung pag-observe ng Macau sa mga protocols na kinakailangang magawa, para sa ganun ay pag-uusapan kung mali-lift na rin yung ban sa Macau."
("We're just waiting for Macau to observe the protocols that needed to be complied with, and then we can discuss whether the ban on Macau can be lifted.")
The Philippines prohibited travel to and from China and its territories Hong Kong and Macau beginning Feb. 2 in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.
Days later, it expanded the travel restriction to include Taiwan, but decided to lift it on Feb. 14, citing the self-governing territory's strict measures and protocol against the spread of the virus that originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Bello said the government's inter-agency task force on COVID-19 will meet Monday and decide whether the travel ban on Macau will be lifted. It is also expected to tackle the calls for the lifting of the travel ban on Hong Kong.
As of Sunday, Macau has 10 confirmed cases of the COVID-19, while Hong Kong has 56, including one death, data from the World Health Organization showed.
Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos are working in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.