COVID-19 task force to allow backriding for couples on July 10

COVID-19 task force to allow backriding for couples on July 10
Workers commuting on bicycles pass by augmentation buses for train passengers near a train station in Manila on June 1, 2020. Hordes of cars and workers poured into the Philippine capital on June 1 after its strict virus lockdown was eased despite a spike in new cases, but as the nation must revive its bruised economy.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Beginning Friday, the government's coronavirus task force will allow backriding, but only for married and common-law couples, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Thursday. 

Speaking in an interview with dZMM Teleradyo, Año said that those doing so would first have to comply with the strict health protocols under the model proposed by Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap, which includes dividers and even handles wedged between riders and their passengers.

“Starting tomorrow, we're going to allow backriding for couples, and the prototype model submitted by Gov. Arthur Yap, that'sa already been approved too by the [National Task Force] and this is the prototype that we're going to use,” he said in a mix of Filipino and English. 

"There is a barrier between rider and passenger, and there should also be a handle on the side of the barrier at the same time both the rider and the passenger need to wear a mask and helmet," he added. 

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, of which Año sits as vice chair, has not yet released a memo regarding the shift to local governments.

Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian that same day wrote in a tweet: "That's going to be the signal to implement this, but we're still waiting for it. We will announce guidelines when we get it."

The national government earlier banned the practice in all areas under community quarantine because it does not observe social distancing.

The general public has long appealed for the restriction to be lifted, especially in the wake of mass transportation woes, including the shutdown of the Metro Rail Transit-Line 3 this week. 

Transportation officials have said that the resumption of motorcycle taxi services is still not yet a possibility as only motorcycle back-riding for private use is being considered. — Franco Luna

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