Gov't open to 'transport bubble' when NCR achieves 'population protection'

The government is willing to look into the proposed deployment of public transport vehicles for fully vaccinated passengers once population protection is attained at least in Metro Manila.

Commuters line up to board a bus along EDSA as the government enforces movement curbs against the coronavirus outbreak in this August 2021 file photo (Mark Balmores/Manila Bulletin)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque recognized the proposal made by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion to form the so-called "transportation bubble," saying this idea could be explored once more people have become fully vaccinated.

"We appreciate the suggestion pero siguro pag-usapan natin yan kapag mayroon na tayong population protection kasi ngayon papunta pa lang tayo sa population protection na 50 percent. Siguro po pag naabot na natin 50, puwede na natin pag-usapan 'yan. Pero sa ngayon po, minorya po ang fully vaccinated (We appreciate the suggestion but maybe let's discuss it when we have population protection because we're on our way to population protection fo 50 percent. Maybe when we reach 50 percent, we can discuss that. But for now, the fully vaccinated is still a minority)," Roque said during a televised press briefing Thursday, August 19.

Roque expressed confidence that Metro Manila could reach population protection, or the vaccination of around 50 percent of the eligible population, within the month.

At least 3.2 million coronavirus jabs have been administered in Metro Manila while the area is under hard lockdown this month. As of August 18, at least 41 percent of the eligible population have already completed their vaccination based on government data.

"Siguro after this week, maabot na ng Metro Manila ang 50 percent at mayroon na tayong population protection, we can then explore how we can resume normal life given na kalahati ng population ng Metro Manila ay bakunado (Maybe after this week, Metro Manila can attain 50 percent and we can have population protection, we can then explore how we can resume normal life given half of the population of Metro Manila is vaccinated)," Roque said.

But for now, Roque said the government remains focused on accelerating the vaccination drive to enhance people's protection from the coronavirus.

Of the 29.1 million jabs administered, more than 12.8 million persons are already fully vaccinated in the country.

Concepcion earlier proposed to the government to consider deploying buses only for vaccinated passengers in a bid to ensure safe mobility. He said these “safe” public transport vehicles would help boost confidence of the fully vaccinated passengers traveling between their houses and workplaces.

“Our main objective is to ensure that every passenger can safely traverse from their homes to workplaces, and vice-versa,” he said during a dialogue with transport leaders last month.

“Buses with fully-vaccinated passengers will give greater confidence to the commuting public and as the private sector is able to achieve micro herd immunity in the workspaces such as in our buildings, safe transport will also be assured from the home to workplace,” he added.