The National Task Against COVID-19 has allowed motorcycle pillion riding and even lifted some of the restrictions in Metro Manila and the four adjacent provinces which were all reverted to the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) status, the Joint Task Force COVID Shield said on Tuesday.
From the earlier restriction that back-riding is limited to married couples and living-in partners, Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, commander of the JTF COVID Shield, said pillion-riding is now allowed for all the Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR).
Eleazar said that both the pillion riding and lifting of restrictions were factored in when the NTF Against COVID-19 discussed the implementation of the MECQ in the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Laguna, Rizal, and Cavite during its meeting on Monday night.
“Since public transportation is not allowed in Metro Manila and the four provinces under MECQ from August 4 to18, motorcycle back-riding will be an essential mode of transportation to ensure that no frontliners and other essential workers would be stranded as they go out to report to work and on their way back home,” said Eleazar.
Based on the government’s guideline, the use of bicycles and motorcycles are encouraged under MECQ.
However, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque clarified that pillion-riding is only allowed in private motorcycles, therefore it does not include motorcycle taxis.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who is also the vice chairman of the NTF Against COVID-19, reiterated the need to strictly implement the installation of motorcycle barrier that will separate the driver and the back-rider, especially that pillion-riding is now allowed for APORs.
“As per SILG Año, motorcycle back-riding will be allowed under MECQ and the rule now states that any person, for as long as they are considered as APOR and especially if the back-riders are medical frontliners and other essential workers, is allowed for pillion riding,” said Eleazar.
The Philippine National Police (PNP), for its part, issued a memorandum to all police commanders in MECQ areas that discusses the guideline that should be observed by policemen manning the border control points.
More checkpoints have been installed as early as Monday, especially at the borders of cities and municipalities, after President Duterte approved the recommendation reverting Metro Manila and the four nearby provinces under MECQ.
Based on the PNP guideline, motorcycle back-riding will be allowed under the following condition:
- The backrider/passenger is an essential worker or APOR and the travel is work-related even if the driver and the passenger are not related;
- The driver is equipped or the motorcycle is installed with the prescribed barrier; and
- The motorcycle is privately-owned, is not for hire, and was not hired during the trip.
Eleazar clarified that people who just want to avail of essential goods and other services outside their communities will not be allowed to back-ride since they are not considered APOR or essential workers.
He said the motorcycle driver and passenger should present to the policemen manning the Quarantine Control Points an identification card and other documents proving that they are essential workers and APOR and that the travel is work-related.
“We hope that this will help our medical workers and other frontliners a lot the entire MECQ period, and we also ask motorcycle riders to follow the guidelines to ensure their smooth and safe travel,” said Eleazar.
In an interview with Unang Hirit, Eleazar said the National Task Force against COVID-19 met with Metro Manila mayors Monday night and issued guidelines on back-riding for MECQ areas.
“Maaring magtanong, ‘eh kung yung driver pala is hindi APOR paano na lang pauwi ka sa paghatid o pasundo ka pa lang? Ayun naman po ay pag nakita naman ng mga checkpoint na may barrier ka, isang consideration na ‘yon (People will probably ask, ‘what if I’m just on my way to fetch or on my way back home?’ Having a barrier in place will already be a consideration),” Eleazer said.
Eleazar said back-riding will also be allowed “regardless of relationship.”
“Di kailangan na sila ay mag asawa (You don’t need to be husband and wife),” he said.
Eleazer also reiterated that putting a barrier between passenger and driver is also required.
He said exemptions only apply to MECQ areas. As for areas under ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) and GCQ, previous rules and guidelines apply for back-riding.
“Kailangan married couple kayo or partners living together (You should be married or live-in partners),” he added. (With a report from Genalyn Kabiling)