Traffic body vows stricter enforcement of pandemic protocols on public transport
Passengers inside a jeepney with plastic seat dividers in Tandang Sora, Quezon City wear face mask and face shield on Sept. 15, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

Traffic body vows stricter enforcement of pandemic protocols on public transport

(Philstar.com) - March 9, 2021 - 9:47pm

MANILA, Philippines — Authorities on Tuesday vowed to heighten operations against violators of pandemic-related curbs on mass transport, saying they will "show no leniency" on drivers who fail to ensure that passengers are following health protocols.

The Inter-Agency Council on Traffic sought to remind the public to be on high alert against the threat of the virus by keeping their face masks and shields on as well as by refraining from speaking during rides.

It came as the body said 517 PUV drivers were apprehended from January to February this year for breach of health measures.

But significantly, the pronouncement comes amid another surge in new coronavirus cases, which just today brought the Philippines' overall count to more than 600,000. 

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Government has attributed the rise in infections to people's failure to comply with protocols, while health officials admit that the detection of new COVID-19 variants in the country may have "aggravated" the increase in cases.

So far, there are already 118 cases of the B.1.1.7 or the variant first seen in the United Kingdom, and 58 cases of the B.1.351 or the one initially detected in South Africa.

This had led experts from the OCTA Research to say that the increasing daily cases may be due to the presence of the two variants. They warned too that 
the country could be reporting as high as 6,000 new infections a day by end of the month. 

“We are taking COVID-19 very seriously," said DOTr Assistant Secretary Manuel Gonzales, who heads the I-ACT. "The task force will show no leniency to PUV drivers who fail to implement health protocols aboard their unit at the expense of their passengers’ lives."

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO: Quarantine violators in Philippine government

I-ACT said too that it will "recalibrate" its enforcement strategy but did not detail as to what changes could be expected.

Apart from reminding passengers, the body added that drivers should also ensure that vehicles have enough ventilation and are regularly disinfected. Those with symptoms should also not be allowed to board, and physical distancing should remain.

Government first allowed modes of transportation to resume in June 2020, when it decided to reopen the country after the months-long hard lockdown. Since then, more means had been cleared to operate, and capacities were increased too. — Christian Deiparine with reports from Franco Luna

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