The Philippines on Tuesday partially lifted a travel ban on Hong Kong and Macau – allowing Filipino migrant workers who were kept from returning to their jobs, to go back to work in the two SARs.

But it appears that a ban on travellers from Hong Kong and Macau imposed earlier this month remains in place. Philippines nationals have been allowed to return, but are subject to 14 days in quarantine.

The Philippines’ 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 Hong Kong or Macau “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.”

“We warn the Duterte government that returning [Overseas Filipino Workers] and migrants should never be required to sign waivers nor provide medical certificates or undergo any other additional process that will prolong their stay”, she added.

The chairwoman of United Filipinos in Hong Kong, Dolores Balladares, told RTHK workers want more details about any restrictions or requirements that migrant workers must comply with before coming back to work.

“There should be no conditions”, she said. “We demand our government to lift the ban to Hong Kong and Macau without asking the worker for any proof or measure that giving them more burden before they come back.”

Balladares said her organisation knows of around 1,000 Filipino workers who were stranded in the Philippines because of the travel ban, but says many thousands more could have been affected.

“They are actually excited and very eager to come back to Hong Kong”, she said.