One-meter distancing to be imposed in public transport under relaxed quarantine measures in the Philippines

In this March 17, 2020 photo, some public utility vehicles still ferry some stranded commuters along EDSA in Cubao, Quezon City following the suspension of all public transport in line with the strict implementation of the enhanced community quarantine. The STAR/Miguel de Guzman. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MANILA, May 9, 2020, PhilStar. A one-meter distance between public transportation passengers would be strictly implemented in areas under relaxed quarantine measures, Malacañang said Thursday, The Philippine Star reported.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said mass transportation can resume operations but at a reduced capacity in places that are under general community quarantine (GCQ) starting Friday, May 1.

The requirement is part of the omnibus guidelines on the implementation of GCQ approved by the government’s coronavirus task force last Wednesday.

“The road, rail, maritime, and aviation sectors of public transportation shall operate at a reduced capacity in accordance with guidelines issued by the DOTr (Department of Transportation). Provided, that in all public transports, a strict one meter distance between passengers shall be observed and appropriate engineering controls in place,” Roque said at a press briefing.

Public transportation system remain suspended in high risk areas or those that will remain under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until May 15.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said additional precautionary measures would be implemented in mass transportation including thermal scanning for passengers and hand sanitation. He said jeepneys cannot resume operations yet because of difficulties in observing social distancing.

“Jeepneys are not yet allowed because if you look at the configuration of the jeepney, passengers face each other,” Año said.

Año said the DOTr would release guidelines on the operation of other public utility vehicles including taxis. He urged the public to help agencies ensure the proper implementation of protocols on public transportation especially social distancing.

At the same briefing, Roque said airline and aircraft maintenance employees, including pilots and crews and ship and captains and crew can now work even in areas under ECQ subject to the guidelines to be issued by DOTr.

“There should be social distancing of one meter. In the airplane, it won’t be just one seat apart because one meter will clearly be every two seats if I’m not mistaken,” Roque said.

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