DOTr orders one-seat-apart rule for PUVs
Aside from the one-seat-apart rule, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade also ordered that more PUV routes and units be made operational and to fast-track implementation of service contracting for buses and jeepneys to accommodate more commuters, while strictly enforcing health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, file

DOTr orders one-seat-apart rule for PUVs

Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - October 15, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has ordered the immediate adoption of the one-seat-apart rule to increase the present capacity in public utility vehicles (PUVs).

Aside from the one-seat-apart rule, Tugade also ordered that more PUV routes and units be made operational and to fast-track implementation of service contracting for buses and jeepneys to accommodate more commuters, while strictly enforcing health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) meanwhile has expressed support for the return of motorcycle taxis on roads, which however would require a congressional resolution.

Tugade yesterday said the DOTr will fully support the return of the service, provided that a Congress resolution is passed to serve as the agency’s legal basis for its implementation.

The DOTr said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) would be issuing a clarificatory memorandum circular explaining in detail the one-seat-apart rule as well measures to increase capacity while ensuring safety of passengers, such as the use of plastic barriers to separate passengers or UV lights inside PUVs.

Tugade also called on the LTFRB to speed up the processes needed for the deployment and operation of shuttle services to add more transport service for employees and workers.

Likewise, the LTFRB was ordered by the transport chief to accelerate the implementation of service contracting for buses and public utility jeepneys this month to give transport operators and drivers a steady source of income while improving the commuters’ riding experience.

The rail sector was directed to increase passenger capacity to 50 percent, while agencies in the maritime sector and aviation sectors were ordered to allow more roll on-roll off (ro-ro) ferries and more flights to cater to passengers.

Tugade said all transport sectors must ensure the strict enforcement of the so-called seven commandments inside public transport, as recommended by health experts.?“The DOTr recognizes the role of motorcycle taxis in transporting our commuters to their destinations. This is a big help especially at present, now that public transportation remains limited,” Tugade said.

“That is why, as long as there is a Congress resolution, which will be our legal basis to allow the operation of MC taxis, we will fully support this. We will abide by the directive of Congress and the IATF on the health and safety protocols,” he said, referring to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Motorcycle ride-hailing firms such as Angkas and JoyRide are currently waiting for the legalization of motorcycle taxi operations in the country.

Motorcycles or two-wheel vehicles are not allowed to operate as public transport.

A pilot implementation or a trial run commenced in June last year that temporarily allowed motorcycle taxis to operate legally for the government to gather data to determine the viability of motorcycles as a safe mode of public transportation.

The pilot study participated in by Angkas, JoyRide and MoveIt expired in April.

10 hotels for staycation

Meanwhile, more Metro Manila hotels are showing interest to operate for staycation purposes as the number of authorized hotels continues to grow, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.?“There are already 10 existing (authorized hotels). Still a lot applying,” Puyat said.?Under Department of Tourism (DOT) Administrative Order 2020-006-A or the “Amended Guidelines on the Operations of Accommodation Establishments for Staycation Purposes under a General Community Quarantine,” all accommodation establishments in areas declared to be under GCQ (general community quarantine) must secure a certificate of authority to operate for staycations (CAOS) from the DOT prior to accommodating any guests for staycation.?The 10 hotels issued with a CAOS are DOT star-rated hotels: Grand Hyatt, Makati Shangri-La, Okada, Shangri-La at the Fort, Nobu Hotel City of Dreams (COD), Joy Nostalg Hotel and Suites, EDSA Shangri-La, Solaire, Hyatt Regency COD and Nuwa COD.?The DOT reported that there are 28 star-rated accommodation establishments in Metro Manila. Of these, 16 are five-star and 12 are four-star.?Puyat yesterday held an inspection of the Grand Hyatt hotel in Bonifacio Global City to check the health and safety protocols in place.?Under staycation guidelines, a guest shall be required to present a negative result from a rapid antigen test conducted on the same day of check-in.

Pandemic fatigue unavoidable – DOH

While experiencing “pandemic fatigue” is unavoidable, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday it is hopeful that public safety will not be compromised.

At a press briefing, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire acknowledged that everyone is “experiencing pandemic fatigue or quarantine fatigue.”

However, she noted this should not be a reason to abandon the minimum health standards against COVID-19.

“We are all experiencing this pandemic fatigue, quarantine fatigue. Almost all of our countrymen now want to go back to their (old) lives. But we always remind them that we will never go back to the way we were,” she added.

Vergeire said what the people now have is a “new normal” which gives assurances that we are protected against the virus “if we are going to comply with these minimum health standards.”

“We must understand that this new normal goes with some sacrifices like always wear mask, face shield, distancing and wash hands,” she said.

The official added these protocols are important to prevent a resurgence of cases as the economy is opening gradually. – Catherine Talavera, Sheila Crisostomo

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