More than one occupant means masks on for all
A lot of confusion was caused by the rule governing the wearing of facemasks inside the car. Conflicting reports said that if you’re alone, then you don’t need to wear one. Others said that you will always have to wear one inside your automobile.
Just today, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Health have released the final word. Following the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), the two aforementioned government agencies will be observing and enforcing the following guidelines.
First is if you are the lone occupant inside a closed motor vehicle (as in you are the only person inside), then you may remove your face mask.
Second, if there is more than one person inside the vehicle, then everyone is automatically required to wear a facemask. “Properly” means that the top portion of the mask must cover your nostrils while the bottom part of the mask stretches down and covers your chin. This rule negates the argument of individuals coming from just one household; even members of the same family and house must wear their masks.
Following this announcement, coordination will be made between different government agencies such as the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (IACT), Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG). Given what will be (and must be) strict compliance and enforcement, other law enforcement agencies, local government traffic offices and units will be briefed on the proper implementation of the above Resolution.
As it is going to be a strict rule, non-compliance will not be let off lightly. Talks between involved agencies will be set to discuss how to properly implement the rules, as well as what fines and penalties will be given to violators, according to DOTr Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran.
In case people may have forgotten, the COVID-19 pandemic is still upon us. Being skeptical, being careless, or simply being too defiant towards safety protocols remain to be costly mistakes for all of us. If there’s a way to curb the infection and transmission of the virus, then the most prudent and decent thing to do is listen, follow, and wear our masks.