The National Task Force against COVID-19 has approved the use of the backpack-like shield proposed by motorcycle taxi service Angkas.
STAR/File
2 back-ride barrier designs get approval
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - July 14, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 has officially approved at least two passenger barrier designs that will allow couples to ride motorcycles in tandem.

“Effective immediately, the above barriers between motorcycle driver and passenger are hereby approved,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, also chairman of the NTF, told reporters yesterday.

The two approved designs are by motorcycle back-ride taxi service provider Angkas and Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the designs of Angkas and Yap were approved last week and were determined to be the most compliant proposals with the minimum health standards set by the government.

“We encourage the motorcycle-riding public to utilize these two prototypes that the NTF approved and we are expecting everyone to comply with these standards,” Año said yesterday.

Angkas’ design is a backpack-like barrier worn by the motorcycle driver.

Año said the design maintains social distancing and is made of lightweight, high-density plastic, allowing road visibility with handles that can be used by the backrider.

“This second approved design is somehow simpler as it will only be strapped to the motorcycle driver and not mounted directly on the motorcycle itself, unlike the first design. It’s good that people have options but as of today, both are already approved to be used,” Año said.

Lorenzana however noted that only couples will be allowed to ride pillion on motorcycles.

“Meantime, back-riding will be strictly for husbands and wives, common law couples and live-in partners,” he stressed, describing the Angkas design as like a backpack that the driver wears.

The NTF against COVID-19 had earlier decided to allow back-riding on motorcycles following appeals from the public especially those who need to go to work and have no other means of transportation.

Government officials insisted on improved health safety measures in addition to face masks and face shields by requiring that a protective barrier be placed between driver and passenger.

The government had earlier allowed couples to ride on motorcycles provided they have plastic barriers between them as protection against the coronavirus.

Aside from married couples, live-in partners and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are allowed as long as they are living in one house.

“These motorcycle barriers or shields, physical distancing and other measures against COVID-19 are tested and subjected to studies. We urge the people to practice discipline and cooperate with the government as we collectively battle this virus,” Año said.

In addition to the barriers, couples are also required to wear face masks and helmets. Earlier, the DILG also reminded police officers to be the first to adhere to these government regulations.

Motorcycle users are now asking authorities to also allow back-riding for other members of the family who are living in the same house as the driver anyway. Neil Jayson Servallos

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