When the government allowed the resumption of select public transportation services, commuters have been able to get to and from their place of work a bit easier compared to before, even though ridership has had to be limited in order to be able to observe a minimum 1 meter gap between passengers.

That meant that public utility vehicles (PUVs) and other forms of public transport were only allowed to carry a very limited number of passengers in adherence to the IATF's strict health protocols; 50% more or less. It also means that commuters have had to wait longer before being able to catch a ride.

Now, that may change, and we're raising our eyebrows a little bit.

The IATF recently approved a proposal that aims to boost public transport ridership by reducing the required physical distancing. Instead of 1 meter, the new safe distance is 0.75 meters.

IATF OKs proposal to reduce physical distancing in PUVs image

Under Resolution No. 69, the IATF gave the go-ahead to the proposal pushed by the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr), and starting September 14 the new 0.75 meter safe distance will be enforced.

The DOTr explained that with the strict health protocols in place (use of face masks and face shields in public transport), the reduction of physical distancing measures will result in the optimization of ridership. The DOTr added that they could further optimize ridership by reducing physical distancing to 0.5 meters after two weeks, and to 0.3 meters after another two weeks.

This means that Class 2 PUVs and public utility buses (PUBs) may soon accommodate not just seated passengers, but also standing passengers. For the DOTr, this will allow more workers and front-liners to reach their workplaces despite the quarantine measures.

IATF OKs proposal to reduce physical distancing in PUVs image

But with the country still experiencing an increase in confirmed cases, could this be the best course of action amid the new normal? Well, the Department of Health (DOH) wishes to discuss the approved Resolution with the EDC. There's no word if the IATF-EDI will defer its implementation, but with the DOH looking to review the said Resolution, perhaps the department will seek to make several changes

While the increased ridership will mean more commuters will be able to get to their destinations, could the reduced physical distancing requirement affect the new daily COVID-19 cases?