Philippines to allow workers to return to Hong Kong, Macau

Workers disinfect a nursing home in Hong Kong. (AP pic)

HONG KONG: The Philippines will allow citizens employed in Hong Kong and Macau to return to their jobs, partially lifting a ban imposed earlier this month to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

A government task force decided to exempt those working in Hong Kong and Macau from the travel ban “subject to certain formalities,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay said on his Twitter account on Tuesday.

The government also lifted on Feb 14 a days-old travel ban on Taiwan.

Filipino workers returning to Hong Kong and Macau will have to “make a written declaration that they know the risks of going back,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said at a televised briefing.

The decision will allow thousands of migrant workers stranded in the Philippines to return to their jobs abroad. The Southeast Asian nation’s overseas workers contribute more than US$30 billion in remittances comprising about 9% of the country’s gross domestic product.

Some 11% of Hong Kong households employ a domestic worker, a ratio that jumps to 30% among married couples with children and 43% when both parents work.

The government also credits the availability of foreign domestic workers for the rising labor force participation rate for female citizens.