The Philippines partially lifted a travel ban on Macau and Hong Kong on Tuesday, allowing Filipino migrant workers who were kept from returning to their jobs, to go back to work in the two Special Administrative Regions.
But it appears that a ban on travellers from Hong Kong and Macau imposed earlier this month by President Rodrigo Duterte remains in place.
Philippine nationals have been allowed to return, but are subject to 14 days in quarantine.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs announced the changes on Twitter, but cautioned that workers must first go through “certain procedural formalities.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo later told reporters in Manila that migrant workers to go back to Macau and Hong Kong “would have to make a written declaration that they know the risk of going back to their places of work.”
Workers’ groups immediately lashed out at this requirement.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Migrante International said “the government should not impose additional burdens on stranded migrants.”
Dolores Balladares, the chairwoman of United Filipinos in Hong Kong, knows of around 1,000 Filipino workers stranded in the Philippines because of the travel ban, but says many thousands more could have been affected.