Duterte Cabinet OKs one-seat-apart rule for public vehicles

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 13 2020 12:32 PM | Updated as of Oct 13 2020 02:50 PM

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet has approved recommendations to revive the pandemic-hit economy, including a one-seat-apart rule for public vehicles, Malacañang said Tuesday. 

Duterte on Monday led the first full Cabinet meeting in 7 months, since March when the coronavirus pandemic prompted varying degrees of lockdowns nationwide, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. 

"Inaprubahan po ng Gabinete ang lahat ng rekomendasyon ng economic cluster," he told reporters. 

(The Cabinet approved all recommendations of the economic cluster.)

Among the cluster's recommendations is to let the passengers of public vehicles sit one seat apart, he said. 

"Inaprubahan po ng Gabinete na sa pampublikong transportasyon, one seat apart na po ang distansya," said Roque. 

"It was arrived at as a matter of consensus, and it is based on science, it is based on studies,” he said. 

Previous guidelines required passengers to stay one meter apart. 

The new rule takes effect after publication in the government journal Official Gazette. 

Authorities do not expect the guideline to lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases, said Roque. 

“Tingin ko, after 6, 7 months of lockdown, alam na natin ang gagawin: mask, iwas, hugas,” he reasoned. 

(I think after 6, 7 months of lockdown, we know what to do: wear a mask, avoid possible infections, and wash our hands.)

The Cabinet also agreed to increase the rail capacity to 50 percent from 30 percent, and increase provincial buses, motorcycle taxis, and shuttles, Roque said. 

The following "Seven Commandments" will be observed in the mass transit system, he said. 

The Philippines is grappling with Southeast Asia’s highest COVID-19 caseload, with 342,816 infections tallied as of Monday.