Passenger ships allowed to increase capacity with easing of distancing rule

Published September 12, 2020, 5:34 PM

by Betheena Kae Unite

Passenger ships in the country will be allowed to increase the number of passengers to 75 percent of their total capacity starting Monday, Sept. 14, as the government eases social distancing protocols in public transportation.

Starting September 14, social distancing within ships will be decreased from one meter to 0.75 meters, allowing passenger ships to carry 75 percent of their total capacity, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) administrator, said Saturday in a virtual presser.

The gradual decrease in social distancing measures on ships will push through until October, Empedrad said.

On September 28, ship owners will be allowed to implement 0.5-meter social distancing within vessels which will increase the capacity of vessels into 85 percent.

On October 12, 0.3-meter distancing will be implemented within vessels. It will increase the capacity of ships between 85 to 100 percent.

“But during embarkation and disembarkation or queuing, social distancing is still in effect. Passengers will not be allowed entry if they are not wearing face shield and face mask,” Empedrad noted.  

The advisory on the changes of guidelines will either be issued over the weekend or by Monday morning, the administrator said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said it will increase its inspections at sea port terminals to ensure that minimum health standards set by the Department of Health are strictly implemented despite the easing of physical distancing among passengers.

“PCG Commandant, Admiral (George) Ursabia has directed district commanders to increase their visibility and intensify the conduct of random inspections to ensure that crew and passengers comply with the minimum health standards at all times,” Commodore Armand Balilo, PCG spokesperson, said during the same press briefing.

Coast Guard personnel in port areas are also instructed to regularly remind the ship crew of their responsibilities in ensuring the safety and security of their passengers, Balilo added.