“Riding in tandem” or pillion riding—with face masks, helmets, and proper speed limit—will now be allowed in roads of Metro Manila starting today (Friday), but only to couples or man and wife, according to a Malacañang official.
Palace spokesperson Harry Roque said Thursday the government allowed back-riding on motorcycles because of growing clamor for pillion riding.
However, motorcycle taxis such as Angkas will remain prohibited because they don’t have an existing franchise to operate.
READ: Angkas proposes plastic shields
In a televised press briefing, Roque said only couples are allowed because that was what the public asked for during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period when no public transportation was operating.
He said couples would have to present an identification card and a photocopy of their marriage contract to authorities should they be flagged down.
Roque added a prototype shield model for motorcycles submitted by Bohol Governor Art Yap has been approved by the National Task Force on COVID-19.
He said motorcycles should have a transparent partition that serves as a shield between the two riders designed by Yap.
Couples would also have to follow public health standards and road safety standards like the wearing of face masks and helmets and observing the speed limit.
He said married couples should be prepared to present a photocopy of their marriage certificate at checkpoints or if police officers check that they are indeed married.
Roque said live-in partners, siblings, and other family members would not be permitted to travel via motorcycle back-riding.
Meanwhile, Roque said he did not see the need for management of Metro Rail Transit-3 to undergo disciplinary action for negligence after operations at the MRT-3 were temporarily suspended beginning July 7 due to an increase in the number of personnel testing positive for coronavirus disease.
Roque said most of the personnel who tested positive were working in the depot and barely had any contact with passengers.
“I don’t think there is a need for disciplinary action because many of the personnel who got infected work in the depot. The ones who work at the depot have no contact with the riding public,” he said.
He said ticket sellers also had a glass barrier between passengers buying tickets, which also limited their interaction.
Since tickets will be automated when the MRT-3 operations resume, Roque reminded the public to ensure that they sanitize their hands before and after using the ticketing machines.
Roque added: “Now, ticket machines will be used to sell tickets which does not mean that there’s no danger there. You also need to sanitize your hands because perhaps who used the machine before you might be infected.”
The Department of Transportation said at least 203 personnel of MRT-3 had been found positive for the coronavirus disease after undergoing swab testing on Wednesday.
DOTr Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran said those who tested positive for the virus accounted for roughly 6 percent of MRT-3’s 3,304 workers.
Of the infected, she said 183 were from the MRT-3 depot in North Avenue, three train drivers, two at the MRT-3 Operations Control Center, and 15 from different stations.
The 15 station personnel include a nurse and 14 ticket sellers—seven from North Avenue station, three from Cubao station, two from GMA-Kamuning station, one from Quezon Avenue station, and one on reserve status, Libiran said.
Meanwhile, she said the resumption of MRT-3 operations on Saturday (July 11) was not yet guaranteed with so far only 1,199 personnel found negative for COVID-19.
To help address the transportation needs of those affected by the MRT-3 shutdown, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade ordered the extension of the MRT-3 Bus Augmentation program’s deployment schedule beginning yesterday.
The first deployment of buses has been changed to 4 a.m. from 5:30 a.m. while the last deployment has been changed from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
READ: Tricycles, backriders along EDSA banned
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