Earlier in the week, we reported that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) together with COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) wanted to slowly reduce the physical distancing measures when it comes to public transport. Both government agencies initially wanted the distance between passengers to be lowered to 0.75 of a meter, with the end goal of having the distance shortened even further to 0.3 of a meter. The purpose of lowering the physical distancing measure was to allow for the maximization of public transportation. The rationale behind it was that with the strict implementation of face shields and facemasks being put into play, it would allow more commuters to ride a public transportation vehicle at any given time. The task force also hoped that it would lead to quicker ride times and shorter queues.
With that in mind and with the backing of health experts, the Philippine government had to step in. Presidential Spokesperson Sec. Harry Roque announced that the 1-meter physical distance between passengers will still be strictly implemented. This comes after the IATF met together to further discuss the matters on the easing of physical distancing. The end result of that meeting was that the 0.75 of a meter physical distancing reduction will temporarily be suspended.
Health experts have also chimed in on the matter and disagreed with the DOTr citing that if the plan were to continue new COVID-19 cases could arise. These further urged the government to reconsider the plan as the possible wave of new cases will overwhelm the country's healthcare system.
As the reduction of physical distance has been suspended, all commuters are advised to still to stay at least 1-meter apart from one another. With respect to this, public utility vehicles as well as other types of public transportation will still adhere to the 50% passenger capacity safety protocol.