No more 'no vax no ride' exemptions by mid Feb.

Published January 26, 2022, 12:10 PM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

61600

By middle of next month, only vaccinated individuals can ride public transport in the metropolis. There will be no more exemptions.

Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers in industries and establishments allowed to operate in the National Capital Region (NCR) under the existing COVID-19 Alert Level 3 status will only be given 30 days from January 26, 2022 to continue riding public transportation and public utility vehicles (PUVs) in entering, exiting, and going around the metropolis.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año, and Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade announced Wednesday, Jan. 26, their decision during the Jan. 21 inter-agency meeting.

The decision is meant to protect both unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers who are using public transportation from contracting COVID-19 and later developing severe infections, according to DOTr Undersecretary for Administrative Service and official representative to the IATF Artemio Tuazon Jr.

“This is to ensure that only those fully protected against COVID-19 are safe from using public transport. Data show that workers who remain unvaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19 are more vulnerable to severe and critical infections,” he explained.

In 30 days following the announcement of the new protocol, only workers in the NCR who are fully vaccinated (those who have completed the 2-dose primary series vaccination such as for the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, or Moderna brands; or the one-dose vaccination such as for the Janssen brand) are allowed to use public transportation.

Within the 30-day window, partially vaccinated workers are still allowed to board public transportation.

However, since partially unvaccinated individuals are still at risk given that they do not have complete protection against the virus as clarified by the Health Department, they are also not allowed to use public transportation if vaccination remains incomplete within the 30-day window.

The joint decision of the three government agencies also supports the government’s ongoing thrust to ramp up vaccination efforts, especially amid the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

“This joint decision is also meant to support the vaccination drive of the entire government. We want our workers to get fully vaccinated especially now that there is no longer a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, and there is a threat of highly transmissible variants of the virus. We are giving our workers the time to get themselves vaccinated,” Tuazon added.

The DOTr official also clarified that the joint decision made by the DOLE, DILG, and the DOTr is not discriminatory.

“As jointly decided by the DOLE, DILG and DOTr, workers who will remain unvaccinated 30 days after the announcement are not being barred from their workplaces. They are simply not allowed to use public transportation, but can still use other means such as active transport, private vehicles, or company shuttle services,” said Tuazon.

 
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