Commercial user-pays-flights to Australia are being arranged to start at the end of next week for Australian citizens, permanent residents, and their direct families.
“This will hopefully include sweeper flights to Manila from Cebu, Davao, Caticlan, Bacolod, Puerto Princesa, Siargao, Dumaguete, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Bohol, and Leyte,” the Embassy said in its post.
Details of arrangements will be announced via email and on social media.
“Following on from the announcement made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs last Friday about Qantas and Virgin Australia flights back to Australia, we’re also engaged in that process to see what’s possible here from Manila back to Australia,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson said in a video message.
“We’re also engaged with Philippine commercial airlines about sweeper flights to bring people from remote locations in the Philippines into Manila and from Manila back home,” Robinson added.
Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific has announced that flights from 15 April to 30 April will be suspended due to the extension of the enhanced community quarantine.
Details of Cebu Pacific’s travel advisory including guidelines for affected passengers are posted on its website.
The details on the advisory are separate from the Australian Embassy’s efforts with governments and airlines to find ways to get Australians home.
Extended quarantine period
The Philippines’ enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was supposed to end on April 13, 2020. The imposition of the ECQ was aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19. This meant that domestic and most international flights were suspended.
Following a recommendation from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), President Duterte has approved to extend the ECQ in the entire Luzon until 30 April 2020.
Keeping in touch
Options have become extremely limited for those stranded in the Philippines and wishing to return to Australia.
The Australian embassy said that “those who decide to remain are advised to follow the directives of local authorities to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19.”
Whenever possible, they “should stay in touch with family and friends so they know you’re safe.”
Those who need urgent consular assistance should call +61 2 6261 3305.
The Australian Embassy has emailed Australians who are in the Philippines with more detailed advice.
On Twitter, Smartraveller said the Australian Embassy in the Philippines is asking any Australians who have not done so already to register their contact and location details via email at firstname.lastname@example.org so that they can contact them if necessary.
The Australian Embassy in the Philippines is asking any Australians who have not done so already to register their contact and location details via email at email@example.com so that they can contact you if necessary.— Smartraveller (@Smartraveller) April 4, 2020
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