MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to retain the policy of requiring a 1-meter distance between passengers on public transport as the COVID-19 threat remains, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Saturday.
In an interview on state television, Roque said the President made the decision Friday after weighing recommendations. The decision came earlier than expected, as the Palace had said Duterte may give his word Monday.
"Matapos pong pag-aralan ni Presidente ang rekomendasyon ng parehong panig na nagsasabi na dapat manatili sa 1 meter ang physical distancing sa pampublikong transportasyon at 'yung mga nagsasabi na pupuwede naman itong pababain basta may face shield, face mask, walang salita... nagdesisyon na po ang Presidente kahapon. Ang desisyon, mananatili po ang 1-meter social distancing sa pampublikong transportasyon," said Roque.
(After the President studied the recommendations of both sides, those saying the 1-meter distancing in public transport should remain and those saying it can be lowered as long as the use of face shields and masks is required, no words... the President decided yesterday. The decision is to keep the 1-meter social distancing in public transport.)
In a separate statement, Roque said the riding public should observe other health measures when on board public utility vehicles.
"In addition to this physical distancing, the commuting public must adhere to health protocols, such as wearing of face mask/shield and no talking and no eating inside the public mode of transport," Roque said.
The government earlier this week implemented a reduced physical distancing policy of 0.75 meters from 1 meter, citing supposed public clamor to ease distancing measures in public transport such as buses, jeepneys and trains.
Roque then said Wednesday the President would decide on the physical distancing policy for public transport passengers after members of the government's pandemic response task force failed to reach a consensus.
In an advisory, the administration of the MRT-3 said that with the President's decision on distancing, a total of 153 passengers at a time will be accommodated per train set, or 51 passengers per coach.
It said health and safety protocols would continue to be enforced in train stations and inside the trains, including the need to wear face masks and shields, regular disinfection, and a ban on phone calls, eating and speaking while on board.
Physical distancing and the use of face masks and shields are being enforced in public transport to prevent further spread of COVID-19 while movement restrictions have been eased as the pandemic continues.
— with a report from Karl Cedrick Basco, ABS-CBN News