When the Philippines closed its doors, back in March, hoping to stave off the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, a large number of couples were left separated, and haven’t seen each other for over six months now.

Even though married couples are permitted to meet again in the Philippines, internationals who maintain a relationship with Filipinos, which usually were allowed to enter the country as tourists, are now included into the non-essential travel regulation, therefore are still banned from entering the Philippines, due to the imposed restrictions, VisaGuide.World reports.

Philippines’ citizens have started online petitions urging the government to lift travel restrictions so that couples could reunite. But, the Health Ministry stressed yesterday (September 15), that the number of infections had increased to 269,407, reaching the highest figure in Southeast Asia; therefore the current COVID-19 situation is considered unfavourable for such a decision to be applied.

The Health Ministry of the Philippines announced yesterday, September 15, that there were a total of 3,544 other Coronavirus infections registered, while 34 persons have died.

These figures impede the government to continue relaxing the imposed Coronavirus preventive measures imposed since March.

However, petitioners insist that couples must reunite because love is not tourism.

Under media campaigns #LoveIsNotTourism and #LoveIsEssential, a large number of persons worldwide shared their concerns regarding the impact of borders closure by a large share of countries.

Filipinos do not make an exemption. Besides using these media campaigns, they also initiated their own petitions.

“The closure of international borders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic was – and still is – sensible and even necessary. It is obvious that we must halt tourism to protect us and others. But love is not tourism. This is not just about a summer holiday or sightseeing; it is about mental health and the future of people all around the world”, the petition reads.

Petitioners Urge the Government to Lift the Travel Ban

According to the petitions initiated by the Philippines’ citizens, the reunion of couples is definitely essential travel.

“Many couples today struggle with these restrictions, have been away from each other for months, have seen their marriage postponed,” the petition reads.

In their petitions, Filipinos mention the example of Denmark, which permits partners’ reunion. Besides, they expressed their concerns about the country’s government.

“We, as international lovers and families, urge governments to amend their travel restrictions. Allow the unbureaucratic and safe reunion of partners in long-distance relationships as well as family members,” they stressed.

Filipinos who find themselves affected by travel restriction emphasized that they would submit or do whatever it is necessary in order to be close with the ones they love. They also said that they would pay for tests and quarantine facilities until they have the results.

According to them, such a move could also help the Philippines economy, for internationals would bring money into the country. “Money can be made from the swab test, money can be made from the quarantine facilities, and airlines would profit as well.”

Remaining Isolated Since March

In March, the Philippines’ government announced that the majority of internationals, except for a few categories, would not be permitted to enter the country, after authorities decided to ban internationals from entering, in an effort to stop the further spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs, revealed that a total of 157 countries which have visa-free facilitation, would be ineligible to enter the Philippines for an unlimited period, as the government declared a health emergency state.

However, authorities in the Philippines clarified that from this decision would be exempted international spouses and children travelling to the country, international crew members, as well as international government organizations officials.

On Monday, Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte stressed that he is seeking to buy Coronavirus vaccine that is being produced by Russia or China, adding that the country which currently has the highest number of infections in the region, would be back to normal by December.

“We will give preference to Russia and China provided that their vaccine is as good as any other in the market,” Duterte pointed out.

The President of the Philippines considers the vaccine as the safest way to get back to the normal situation.

Some EU Countries Enabling Separated Partners to Reunite

Couples across the world have been struggling with this problem for six months now, but still, the majority of countries haven’t taken concrete steps to put an end to this problem.

Last month, VisaGuide.World reported regarding the separated couples in India that haven’t seen each other for months now, due to travel bans and entry restrictions.

But, India is among a large number of countries that have to face this problem daily.

Authorities in New Zealand had previously announced that have made new changes to the border and visa controls that will be applied from early October, in order to help reunite Trans-Tasman couples which remain separated amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, in Europe, a total of 11 countries have already lifted the travel ban, and the unmarried couples who remained separated are now permitted to reunite.

European countries that permitted couples to reunite include Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.

However, in other European countries, visa application centres have not started to work yet; therefore, persons cannot fill their applications to find their partners who do not live in their country.

Earlier this month, German politician Moritz Körner, a member of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in an interview for SchengenVisaInfo.com stressed that he believes that the Member States should follow the Danish example to find a joint European approach to the issue.

According to him, this is the only way to remedy the injustice created in the past months towards binational couples that have deeply been affected by the entry ban.

International campaigns #LoveIsNotTourism and #LoveIsEssential have been supported by a large number of persons including European Union Minister, Officials, Commissioners as well as MEPs.