The Philippines announced that it is shutting its airports to all commercial flights for at least a week starting Sunday (3rd May). The decisions came in as its quarantine capacity is near breaking point following a recent surge in Filipino workers returning from abroad.
Carlito Galvez, Head of a task force overseeing the country's efforts to check the spread of the coronavirus, said in a statement the new restrictions on inbound flights were meant to ‘give the government the opportunity to decongest the quarantine facilities in Metro Manila’. The government has accomodated about 20,000 repatriates in various sites in the capital region amid the lockdown, with about 2,000 people arriving daily, shared the Department of Transporation.
However, many workers are furious and claim that the decision was abrupt. The sudden travel ban has left several migrant workers stranded. As per the Foreign Ministry, over 24,000 Filipinos working abroad have so far returned to home. Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who helps steer the anti-virus task force, said in a radio interview some 40,000 overseas Filipinos, many of them in the Gulf states, were expected in the coming weeks. And all would have to be quarantined.
While many have returned to their country, hundreds of Filipino workers still remain far from home. The Overseas Workers and Welfare Administration estimated that up to 250,000 migrant Filipino workers might be forced to return home because of the pandemic.
The global health crisis has shaken up the entire world of work and as the economy and businesses suffer, the workforce also suffers the consequences. At least 90,000 working abroad as seamen, hotel and mall staff, waiters, cooks, entertainers, and factory, oil and construction workers have been furloughed, without pay, or are now jobless because of lockdowns or stay-at-home restrictions. Although various governments across the world are taking measures to safeguard the interests of workers, many still find it difficult to sail through. For how long the current measures work remains unknown. Businesses, government and world institutions have to continuously work together to navigate through this one of its kind crisis.