New York Philippine Consulate’s initial reopening remains limited to passport applications for urgent travel needs

NEW YORK — New York City has gone through hell and back having been the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus pandemic.

But New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently gave a thumbs up for the phase 1 reopening of one of the biggest, most populous cities in the world.

Phase one should bring about 400,00 workers back to work in New York City.

Phase 1 will include those who work in construction, manufacturing and retailers with curbside pickup or in-store pick-up.

While no specific date has been set yet, the New York Philippine Consulate’s doors will re-open for in-person consular services – but limited to passport applications for urgent travel needs only.

“For the initial phase, and this will be of the first two weeks upon reopening, we will be open only 3 days a week, so these are Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays,” said Consul Ricarte Abejuela III.

This was made possible thanks to a new social distancing appointment system called Q-less.

After signing up for a specific appointment date and time – customers will receive a text message for confirmation and reminders.

“On the day of your appointment, itself, you will sent at least 1 more text message reminding you of your appointment time. So if you don’t have a mobile phone, you will not be receiving these text messages, if you have a mobile phone, you will constantly be reminded of your appointment.”

Consular clients will only be allowed in the consulate 15 minutes before their appointment time slot.

Those who arrive earlier than that would have to wait outside the building using social distancing markers.

Appointment documents will be reviewed, and temperatures will be checked before entry.

Services will only be rendered by appointment. No walk-ins will be allowed.

“If you don’t have an appointment, you will not be allowed entry into the building, also consistent with the current protocol of the physical distancing, if you don’t have mask, we will not allow you to enter the premises.”

Guests will also have to sanitize when they enter the premises.

Only two windows will be open to serve a limited number of people.

“The Philippine consulate in New York will also operate only between 10 am to 3 pm — and will only take about 25 customers a day maximum compared to the average 300 customers a day before the pandemic,” said Claro Cristobal.

Missing an appointment means, one will have to go through the re-application process of getting a new time slot using the Q-less app.

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