Malacañang said the newly-approved one-seat apart rule among passengers in public transportation will have to be strictly enforced to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while the government works on reviving the economy.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after President Duterte’s Cabinet agreed to implement the new physical distancing rule in public transportation, effectively scrapping the one-meter distance rule.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, Roque said the new physical distancing rule is not in effect but said it will be implemented soon but with the necessary guidelines from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
“It has to be published [on the Official Gazette] and there will be guidelines to be issued by the LTFRB,” he told “The Source” on Wednesday.
“It’s been approved by the Cabinet so we expect it to be implemented eventually, sooner probably than later. Hintayin lang po natin ang guidelines ng (Let’s just wait for the guidelines from the) LTFRB,” he added.
According to Roque, the LTFRB will have to strictly enforce the new physical distancing rule after reports of overcrowded buses despite the existing one-meter distance among passengers.
“Bagama’t (Even though it is now) every other seat, it will still have to be enforced,” he said.
“Kinakailangan talaga ipakita ng LTFRB na bagama’t tinaasan natin ang ating transportation availability, importante pa rin na masunod ang mga health protocols dahil baka naman tayo ay magkasakit (The LTFRB needs to show that even though we increased the availability of transportation, it is still important to follow health protocols because we may end up getting sick if we don’t),” he added.
Roque said the government made the move to cater to the needs of the workforce. At least 50 percent of the economy has already opened but only 30 percent of public transportation is operational.
He assured the public that the new physical distancing measure is safe as long as they follow the minimum health protocols of wearing face masks and face shields, observing physical distancing, frequent disinfection of the vehicle, and o talking or eating inside the vehicle.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) had earlier planned to reduce the one-meter physical distancing measures to .75.
However, this was opposed by the medical community. President Duterte eventually decided to stick to the original one-meter distancing measure.