The one-seat part policy has now effectively replaced the one-meter distancing rule in public transport but passengers will also be allowed to sit beside each other provided that there are plastic barriers separating them, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said.
This was included in the updated health protocols for public utility vehicles (PUVs) released by the LTFRB through Memorandum Circular 2020-061 to strengthen the enforcement of the new seating rule.
Under the memorandum dated Oct. 16, passengers must be one-seat apart inside PUVs but they will be allowed to sit next to each other as long as they are separated by plastic barriers that should be installed in between seats.
Minimum health protocols must also be strictly observed by the passengers inside the public transport at all times such as the proper wearing of face masks and face shields.
The circular added that talking or eating inside PUVs remained prohibited even with the implementation of the new distancing rule while passengers with symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to travel.
For operators and drivers, the LTFRB has directed them to provide adequate ventilation inside their units which should be properly and frequently disinfected. Aside from regular disinfecting agents, the Board said that use of UV lights will also be allowed.
As the memorandum took effect immediately, the LTFRB warned that failure to comply with the guidelines set by the Board will incur penalties such as imposition of fines or cancellation or suspension of the franchise or Certificate of Public Convenience of the unit.
The eased public transport rule was approved and unanimously agreed upon during a Cabinet meeting presided over by President Duterte last week, allowing increased passenger capacity in PUVs to aid in economic revival.
Aside from road transport, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade had earlier ordered the rail sector to increase passenger capacity from 30 percent to 50 percent.
The maritime and aviation sectors were also directed by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) chief to allow more Roll-on, Roll-off (RO-RO) operations and additional flights to cater to more passengers.