Public transport protocols to remain at ECQ-level during MECQ–DOTr

Published August 20, 2021, 3:47 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

Enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)-level measures for public transportation will still be imposed in Metro Manila, Laguna, and Bataan even as the quarantine status in these areas will be downgraded to a modified ECQ (MECQ) until the end of the month, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said.

Passengers observe safe distancing as part of the COVID-19 preventive protocols inside the MRT. (Mark Balmores/ File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN).

In a statement on Friday, Aug. 20, Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade reiterated that only Authorized Persons Outside Residence or APORs as identified by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will be allowed to use public transport services during the MECQ period.

“As the threat of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) Delta variant cases soar, the public should remain vigilant, especially in using public transport. Just like during the ECQ period, there will be stricter enforcement of safety measures to ensure that only APORs are permitted to use public transport, as mandated by the IATF,” Tugade said.

Following a two-week ECQ or hard lockdown, President Duterte has agreed to deescalate Metro Manila and Laguna’s quarantine status to MECQ starting Aug. 21. The province of Bataan will enter into MECQ on August 23 until the end of the month.

While there will be no changes in the supply and capacity of public transportation during the MECQ period, Tugade reminded commuters and transport workers to continue the strict observance of health and safety protocols at all times.

Here are specific public transportation guidelines per sector:

Road transport

In the road transport sector, public utility buses and jeepneys are allowed to operate at 50 percent maximum capacity on a “one-seat-apart” rule.

Standing passengers will be prohibited, while only one passenger is allowed to be seated on the driver’s row.

Operations of motorcycle-taxis such as Angkas and transport network vehicle service (TNVS) such as Grab will still be permitted.

Only one passenger per tricycle will also be allowed as approved by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the local government units (LGUs) in compliance with the existing policies on its operational limitations.

Railway sector

Operations of the major railway systems in NCR or Metro Manila including the Philippine National Railways (PNR), Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2 (LRT-1 and LRT-2), and the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) will continue during the MECQ period.

Tugade said train marshals will still be deployed to identify APORs and help enforce strict health and safety protocols in the stations and inside the train.

Aviation and maritime sectors

In the Aviation and maritime sectors, domestic flights and sea travel in the NCR will also continue, subject to community quarantine restrictions of the passenger’s destination.

To ensure that motorists will adhere to the government-imposed safety measures, enforcers from the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT) and transport marshals will still be deployed.

The DOTr chief further reminded commuters and public transport stakeholders to observe the following “seven commandments” of public transport:1. wear masks and face shields, 2. no talking and making phone calls, 3. no eating, 4. keep public utility vehicles well-ventilated, 5. conduct frequent disinfection, 6. no passengers with COVID-19 symptoms are to be allowed inside the public transportation, and 7. observe appropriate physical distancing rule.