A few days ago, President Rodrigo Duterte declared that the National Capital Region (NCR) be put under community quarantine in order to stop the spread of the contagious COVID-19. As such, domestic travel to and from NCR by air and sea has been canceled, while domestic land travel has been restricted in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Despite the limited access to and from NCR, public transportation services will continue to operate throughout the community quarantine for commuters to use. However, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) recently released a set of guidelines on social distancing. According to the DOTr, these guidelines will ensure the well-being and safety of the riding public during the community quarantine.
Starting with the public utility vehicle (PUV) sector, operators and drivers will have to observe the following:
Taxis / TNVS (including airport taxis) should not have more than four passengers including the driver, one seat apart
UV Express vans must not carry more than six passengers including the driver
For old jeepneys, they must not carry more than half of their regular passenger capacity, one seat apart
Class 2 and Class 3 Omnibus Franchising Guideline compliant units, they are only allowed to have half of their passenger capacity
Public utility buses can only carry 25 passengers at most and must not have any standing passengers
The DOTr also stated that all provincial buses, inter-regional trips of jeepneys, and UV Express vans traveling to and from Metro Manila will be terminated on the point of entry, as identified by the PNP. In addition, all passengers riding PUVs bound for Metro Manila must have a valid company ID and a government-issued ID.
All terminals will not allow any person to enter should they have a body temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher. Terminal operators also have to ensure and maintain proper sanitation and cleanliness of the terminals and the PUVs themselves. Meanwhile, all PUV drivers and conductors have to properly wear masks at all times while on duty.
P2P (point-to-point) buses from Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Clark International Airport and Sangley Airport will be allowed to operate as scheduled but is subject to the Department of Health (DOH) and PNP protocols.
In the rail sector, trains will only be allowed to ferry passengers at reduced capacity in order to minimize the concentration of passengers per train. Moreover, train personnel has been instructed to limit the number of commuters on the station platforms, concourse, and elevators. The women's and senior citizen's sections of train cars will be further separated in order to lessen the chances of the virus spreading.
In order to keep the interior of the trains clean, the disinfection of the train cars will be done at least every loop. There will also be constant disinfection of the train stations during operational hours to keep commuters safe.
Finally, passengers are also advised to maintain a distance of 1 meter apart from other individuals while waiting in line in terminals or inside train stations, as well as while inside PUVs.
“We all have to bear the burden, carry personal inconveniences and sacrifices for the common good and our nation's interest. These protocols are temporary. The deeper we cooperate and unselfishly carry our share, the faster we shall overcome,” said Arthur Tugade, DOTr Secretary.