Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Saturday said the move to adjust physical distancing in public transportation by a few centimeters was a “carefully calibrated” decision to address the gap brought by the reopening of the economy.
“Pinag-aralan ito ng mga eksperto at pinag-aralan ito ng DOTr. So kami sa IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) ipinaubaya na namin sa DOTr ang responsibility to slowly open up ‘yong capacity, pero kailangan evidence-based (Experts have studied this as well as the Department of Transportation. This is why we at the IATF transferred to DOTr the responsibility to slowly open up the capacity granted that it’s evidence-based,” he said during a live stream on his Facebook page.
The official, who also co-chairs the IATF, explained that the country is slowly entering phase two of its “national action plan” against Covid-19, which is balancing health and economic aspects amid the new normal.
“Unti-unti binubuksan natin ‘yong ekonomiya — nagkakaroon ng economic activities, bumabalik na sa trabaho ang ating mga kababayan, ang mga industriya mas nagiging less restrictive na tayo… pero habang ginagawa natin ito, nakikita natin na ‘yong mga kababayan natin na kailangan magtrabaho nahihirapan tumungo sa kanilang workplace dahil may gap sa transportation (We are slowly reopening our economy — economic activities are resuming, the public are getting back to work, and the industries are getting less restrictive… but while we are doing this, we saw that the riding public is having a problem due to the gap in transportation),” he said.
Nograles assured that the government would not sacrifice the country’s health policy nor risk possible Covid-19 exposures with the new measure. Along with the adjustment would be additional health and safety protocols, he added.
“Ang importante dito, binabantayan natin ‘yong safety ng lahat because nobody wants transportation to be the cause of Covid’s further spread (What’s important here is that we are monitoring the safety of everyone because nobody wants transportation to be the cause of Covid’s further spread),” he said.
In the eased rule, physical distancing between commuters inside public transportation would be reduced from one-meter to 0.75 meter (approximately 2.5 feet) starting Sept. 14, provided that the “No Face Mask, No Face Shield, No Entry” policy, as well as the “No Talking and No Answering Calls” would be observed.
The distancing would then be reduced to 0.5 meters (approximately 1.8 feet) on Sept. 28 and 0.3 meters starting October 12. The said protocol is subject to changes should there be any concern after the implementation, according to DOTr. (PNA)