Foreign cruise ships carrying Filipino seafarers allowed to dock in Manila despite Luzon lockdown

The Manila Bay. <i>Photo: Michael Delizo / ABS-CBN News</i>
The Manila Bay. Photo: Michael Delizo / ABS-CBN News

Foreign cruise ships carrying Filipino seafarers will be allowed to dock at Manila’s ports despite the ongoing Luzon lockdown, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said today said in a virtual presser.

However, the seafarers have to quarantine themselves on their vessels first before they are allowed to disembark in Manila.

“Foreign cruise ships carrying Filipino crew members will be allowed to dock in the ports of Manila and [can] be used as quarantine facilities,” Nograles said in English and Filipino.

Likewise, foreign crew members are required to be quarantined on the vessels for 14 days before they are allowed to go back to their native countries.

“The accompanying foreign crew members [of said ships] will also be allowed to return to their respective countries as long as they finish the mandatory 14-day quarantine here,” he added.

Nograles, however, did not explain when this measure will take effect or if it’s already being implemented. He said the move is part of efforts to repatriate displaced Filipinos affected by the pandemic.

Under the Philippine Coast Guard protocol, any vessel coming from virus-hit countries must complete a 14-day period at sea before the Bureau of Quarantine can assess the health of its crew, which is needed for port clearance.

On Monday, the Foreign Affairs Department said that it has repatriated some 13,000 Filipino workers who arrived by plane in the Philippines on two separate charter flights. The group included 822 crew members from ships MS Norwegian Epic, MS Marina, and MS Norwegian Spirit which came from the U.S. and Barbados.

The Filipinos were quarantined overseas before flying to the Philippines, where they were put on another 14-day home quarantine upon arrival.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 736 Filipinos abroad have fallen ill from the virus, with the majority of the cases coming from Europe and Asia.

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