Senator Grace Poe urged the government on Monday to continue implementing strict health protocols as it allowed the entry of provincial buses to Metro Manila starting Sept. 30.
"Habang nadadagdagan ang mga pampublikong sasakyan sa kalsada, kailangang doblehin rin ang pag-iingat para hindi mahawa at makahawa ng COVID-19 (While we increase the public transport vehicles in roads, we should also be extra careful so that we do not get infected or spread the COVID-19)," Poe said.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has allowed over 200 provincial buses plying 12 routes to serve passengers going to and from Metro Manila and Regions 3 and 4-A starting September 30.
Poe agreed provincial buses are important in moving people and goods from Metro Manila and nearby regions and in providing a source of income to drivers long sidelined by the pandemic.
"Our workers are the driving force of the economy. If they will have difficulty in mobility, then the economy will also find it hard to get going," she said.
But the chairperson of the Senate Public Services Committee said passengers and drivers must strictly observe safety protocols such as the wearing of face masks and face shields, observing physical distancing, giving the correct information for contact tracing, proper handwashing, and avoiding unnecessary travels.
She added that transport operators and authorities should also reduce the risk of travellers being exposed to traces of the virus on surfaces by disinfecting vehicles and stations regularly.
Bus stops and terminals must also be monitored for compliance with social distancing. She called for the proper and timely bus dispatch to avoid overcrowding in bus stops and terminals and ensure safe distances inside the buses.
Likewise, she said the cleanliness of facilities is a must at all times and disinfectants and sanitizers must always be available for the free use of passengers.