Gov’t suspends reduced physical distancing in public transportation

The reduced one-meter physical distancing rule in public transportation has been suspended pending the decision of President Duterte on the matter, Malacañang said Thursday.


Thus, the physical distancing measure in public transportation will remain at one meter, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said, after Duterte ordered the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to take another look at its decision to ease the distancing measure to 0.75 meter following the appeal of medical frontliners.

Roque said that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade announced in an IATF meeting the suspension of the implementation of the new protocol as the body is yet to submit its recommendation to the President.

“We will revert to the one-meter physical distancing in public transportation because President Duterte is yet to make a decision if we can bring it down to 0.75 meter," he said. With this development, Roque said Duterte will not be able to make an announcement today , contrary to what he said Wednesday.

“We expect that the President may an - nounce his decision on Monday during his next public address,” he added.

The IATF had earlier approved to reduce the physical distancing measure inside public transportation from one meter to 0.75 meters.

The Palace official said the decision and recent recommendation of the IATF to Duterte was based on doctors' advice. He likewise said it was important to open up transportation so people can go to work.

Even former DOH chief Dr. Manuel Dayrit supports the easing of physical distancing in public transportation.

“What we are saying here, me as a medical person, is that it is possible to go below one meter. It is not dogma. But we have to look at all the packages in the ‘seven commandments’ for its proper implementation,” Dayrit said in in an interview over ANC Thursday morning.

The so-called “seven commandments” proposed by a group of health experts led by Dayrit are as follows:

  1. Wearing of proper face masks
  2. Wearing of face shields
  3. No talking and no eating
  4. Adequate ventilation
  5. Frequent and proper disinfection
  6. No symptomatic passengers
  7. Appropriate physical distancing

Over the weekend, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nogales said the move to ease the physical distancing measures was a calibrated move and a part of the second phase of the National Action Plan to address COVID-19, in which the government will now balance protecting the health of the public and revitalizing the economy. (With a report from Analou de Vera)