The Philippine government’s COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) wants to increase the number of maximum passengers that can ride on public transport. In order to do so, the IATF has released a new resolution that has lowered the distance in which passengers should be spaced. Under resolution No. 69, starting November 14, 2020, the new 0.75 of a meter safe distance will be enforced.
The move to lower the safe distance between passengers has come from the ease in quarantine restrictions. Through the lifting of certain restrictions in certain areas, it has allowed for the resumption of some modes of public transportation such as Jeeps and Buses. Originally these modes of public transportation had to adhere to a 50% passenger capacity as well as a physical distancing of 1 meter in between passengers. The result of this was long waiting times for passengers before they could get a ride to where they need to go.
With that in mind, the IATF’s new resolution wants to increase the number of passengers that can ride public transit. The resolution No.69 has already been cleared by the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) along with the Department of Transportation. The DOTr explains that with the new strict health protocols of wearing a facemask and Faceshield put into place, the reduction of physical distancing should help optimize public transportation ridership. The government body further adds that they will further reduce the amount from 0.75 to just 0.50 of a meter after two weeks starting from September 14. After another two weeks, the distance will then again be reduced down to 0.3 of a meter.
With the lowering of physical distancing space needed in public transportation, this will allow Class 2 PUVs and public utility buses to accommodate more than just seated passengers. It will give these vehicles room to allow standing passengers to ride the vehicle. The DOTr states that with these shorter physical distancing spaces it will allow more workers and front liners to reach their workspaces even with quarantine measures put into place.
This could lead to becoming a risky move for the country as even the Department of Health is unsure about the resolution and wishes to discuss it with the EDC. There is no word yet if the IATF will defer the implementation of the new resolution, however, expect new changes to be put into place in the coming months.