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Gov’t OKs scaling down strict physical distancing rules in public transportation

FILE PHOTO: Passengers onboard a bus wear face masks and face shields, both mandatory in public transportation, to help curb coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, August 19, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

The Department of Transportation announced Friday that the strict social-distancing measure for public transportation will be eased in a bid to cater to more commuters, as more and more businesses are expected to re-open.

It said the proposal of DOTr and the Economic Development Cluster was approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force and National Task Force Against COVID-19.

DOTr initially announced the adjustment will start on September 14, however Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran retracted, saying they have to meet with DOH, EDC, and IATF to finalize the date of implementation.

The required distance between passengers will be scaled back to just 0.75 meters from the recommended one meter. The distance will further be reduced to 0.5 meters two weeks afterward, and to just 0.3 meters after another two weeks.

Meanwhile, standing passengers will be allowed onboard modern PUVs.

“There is a need to safely optimize the carrying capacity of the various public transport modes as Metro Manila and its adjacent areas continue with the transition towards the “new normal” where more workers are expected to return to their re-opened workplaces and more businesses are expected to resume operations that were stopped during the enforcement of strict quarantine measures,” DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a statement.

The wearing of face masks and face shields will still be required while taking calls and talking onboard public transport is still prohibited. The following are the adjusted maximum passenger capacities for train lines:

LRT-1

  1. One meter – 155 passengers
  2. 0.75 meters – 204 passengers
  3. 0.5 meters – 255 passengers
  4. 0.3 meters – 300 passengers

LRT-2

  1. One meter – 160 passengers
  2. 0.75 meters – 212 passengers
  3. 0.5 meters – 274 passengers
  4. 0.3 meters – 502  passengers

MRT-3

  1. One meter – 153 passengers
  2. 0.75 meters – 204 passengers
  3. 0.5 meters – 255 passengers
  4. 0.3 meters – 286 passengers

PNR

  1. One meter – 166 passengers
  2. 0.75 meters – 184 passengers
  3. 0.5 meters – 256 passengers
  4. 0.3 meters – 320 passengers
Meanwhile, for class 2 modern PUVs and public utility buses, optimizing the physical distance between passengers inside the vehicles will mean that standing passengers may be accommodated.
As for airlines and passenger ferries, optimizing the physical distance between passengers will mean more passengers being allowed to enter airports and seaports.
This will also mean an increase in the passenger load capacity on roll on-roll off passenger’s vessels, as follows:
1-meter: 50%
0.75-meter: 75%
0.5-meter: 85%
0.3-meter: 100%
Secretary Galvez expressed his support towards the optimization of the physical distancing measure between passengers while aboard public utility vehicles (PUVs), as it will translate to more employees and workers that will be able to reach their workplaces despite strict quarantine measures imposed by government to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“Optimizing the physical distance between passengers inside PUVs without sacrificing strict health and safety protocols such as wearing of face masks and face shields, will help soothe the transportation woes of Filipino commuters. With public transportation, there is faster recovery of lives and livelihoods as we push forward under the new normal,” said Secretary Galvez.

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