Restrictions in public transport have further eased as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) allowed the vulnerable population, including children and the elderly, to ride public utility vehicles (PUVs).
In its Memorandum Circular No. 2021-065, the LTFRB directed PUV operators in areas under Alert Levels 1 and 2 to allow members of the vulnerable population inside public transport.
These include passengers below 18 years old and above 65 years old, those with immunodeficiencies, comorbidities or other health risks, and pregnant.
Under the circular, the LTFRB said that minor passengers will be allowed to board PUVs provided that they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The LTFRB warned that failure to comply with this directive "shall be considered a violation of their Certificate of Public Convenience and appropriate penalties shall be imposed against the operator."
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases earlier placed Metro Manila and several provinces under less restrictive Alert Level 2 amid the downtrend in the country's COVID-19 cases.
Based on IATF guidelines, interzonal and intrazonal travel shall be allowed in areas under Alert Level 2, subject to reasonable restrictions by the local government units (LGUs).
Children accompanied by their parents, guardians, or other adults are also allowed to enter public establishments like restaurants and malls under this alert level.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) increased to 70 percent the passenger capacity of buses, jeepneys, and UV Express in Metro Manila and the provinces of Laguna, Rizal, Cavite, and Bulacan last Nov. 4.
Despite the eased restrictions in public transport, the LTFRB reminded that "existing health protocols shall remain in full force and effect inside PUVs."
Transport agencies also told PUV drivers and passengers to observe the following seven commandments inside 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
7. Observe appropriate physical distancing rule