Commuters may soon have an easier time getting around town.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s cabinet has just approved a one-seat-apart policy in public transportation said Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque today. With the implementation of the one-seat apart policy, more commuters can board jeepneys, buses, and other modes of public transportation. They no longer have to strictly follow the one-meter distancing required since public transportation was re-opened last June.

Despite allowing commuters to sit one seat apart, passengers are still required to follow health safety guidelines and minimum health standards. These include wearing proper face masks, wearing face shields, no talking and eating, adequate ventilation, and frequent/proper disinfection. Symptomatic passengers will still not be allowed. At the same time, appropriate physical distancing will be followed.

Together with the one-seat-apart policy, Malacanang adds that PUVs may gradually increase seating capacity or allow seating together provided there is a plastic barrier separating them. If plastic barriers are not available, using a UV light for disinfection is also allowed. They will also be allowing more provincial buses, shuttles, ride-hailing services, and motorcycle taxis to return to service and accommodate more passengers.

Roque says the decision comes after the cabinet recommended easing measures in order to revive the pandemic hit-economy. He adds that the one-seat apart policy will only take effect immediately after publication on the Official Gazette. Furthermore, there is no need for the IATF to issue a resolution to enable its effectivity. There was no word as to when this will be implemented.

“I’m sure DOTr (Department of Transporation) will issue the final guidelines pero one-seat-apart is one-seat-apart po, hindi pupuwedeng magkakatabi,” he said.

[I’m sure DOTr will issue the final guidelines, but one-seat-apart is one-seat-apart, they can’t sit next to each other.]

Commuting will sure be easier once the one-seat-apart policy is implemented. However, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continues to rise daily. This does beg the question of whether reducing the physical distance in PUVs the right thing to do? Do remember that the IATF planned to ease physical distancing in public transportation from 1 meter to 0.75 meters. However, it did not push through.

Let us know your opinions below.