ECQ to GCQ: Getting Ready for the New Normal (Part 2)
May 13, 2020
Screenshot from: Department of Transportation
Yesterday, May 12, the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the COVID-19 response of the National Government announced certain areas that still belong to the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) effective May 16, 2020, namely Metropolitan Manila, all cities, the province of Laguna and Cebu City in the Visayas. These areas are considered as high-risk areas because of the density of positive cases of COVID-19.
On the other hand, the IATF also announced that the following areas has transitioned into general community quarantine (GCQ) from ECQ, namely Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Region 2, Region 3, Region 4-A except Laguna, Region 7, Region 9, Region 11 and Region 13. These areas are considered moderate-risk areas after recording minimal additional cases of COVID-19 and data of greater recoveries than dead.
There are low-risk areas or will no longer under any community quarantine, namely Region 1, Region 4-B, Region 5, Region 6, Region 8, Region 10, Region 12 and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
This time, it might be the right time to ask: Does the Philippines ready for the new normal?
As promised, this week will be devoted to the discussion on the GCQ guidelines about the road and rail sectors of transportation. This is given much more importance because Metro Manila and majority of the modes of transportation that Filipinos involves mass transport on road.
Summary of DOTr’s road-based transportation guidelines on areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ):
With regards to land transportation, part of the different sanitary measures are the mandatory wearing of face masks and the regular disinfection of public transport facilities.
LOOK: Public Utility Buses (PUBs) are being disinfected at the Rural Transit Mindanao, Inc. (Westbound IBT) at Bulua,…
Inside the transport terminals, whether public and private, there will be mandatory checking of body temperature of all commuters. Disinfecting facility with alcohol and soap at all entry and exit points will be established. Physical distancing will be strictly implemented while waiting in line and boarding in PUVs.
There will be limited operations of public utility transport, but it will be subjected to stricter guidelines of the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB). Though operational in GCQ areas, buses and jeepneys are not allowed to stop, pick-up, and drop-off passengers in areas under ECQ.
The passenger load of public vehicles will be limited to 50% or half of the vehicles seating capacity. However, PUVs with higher passenger capacity will be prioritized, specifically buses, modern jeepneys, conventional jeepneys and UV express vans.
TINGNAN: Narito ang mga gabay kung paano paiiralin ang Social Distancing measures sa loob ng mga pampublikong sasakyan…
LOOK: DISCIPLINE IS THE KEY!
Social distancing and proper health and sanitation measures are strictly being observed at…
Taxis and Transport Network Vehicle Services (TNVS) will be allowed to operate but still subjected to strict physical distancing and sanitary measures. Multiple bookings of passengers in a single trip shall be prohibited.
Though proven helpful against the monstrous traffic in Metro Manila, the operations of motorcycle taxis will remain prohibited. The AITF sees motorcycles in tandem riders as violation of the physical distancing practice. This will avoid virus transmission through sharing of helmets and close contact between driver and passenger.
Tricycles can be allowed to operate but to be subjected to local government unit’s (LGU) guidelines and policies.
One thing to be considered during the relaxed quarantine policies are the mobility of frontline workers, most especially the medical workers and professionals. That is why, the operations of free transport services for frontliners will be sustained during the transition period. National government agencies, LGUs, hospitals, facilities and private companies are encouraged to augment vehicles to transport their employees and to supply gap and serve the mobility needs of their personnel and constituents.
About the enforcement? Given the bulk and density of what to prioritized in Metro Manila, the AITF, LTFRB and LTO ensures to conduct daily random inspections on PUV operations, offices, terminals, and depots. Partnering with the national agencies, the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and LGUs will help in enforcement through enforcers located in strategic locations. Number coding will remain suspended in areas of GCQ.
It is another story to be told in our rail sector, the Light Rail Transit lines 1 (LRT-1) and 2 (LRT-2), Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR). As we all know, the situation in our trains has been terrible since then because of the density of passengers especially during peak hours in the morning and in the afternoon to evening.
Summary of the DOTr’s Guidelines for railway-based public transport operations in areas under the General Community…
Train operations in Metro Manila will resume whenever the ECQ is lifted.
First in their list of pre-cautionary measures is social distancing. There will be a one-meter physical distancing inside trains and stations. Significantly, train operators ensure the presence of markings, signages, tarpaulins and other logistics and those will be utilized to ensure strict implementation.
Image from: Department of Transportation
Passenger capacity in trains will be reduced as well. LRT 1 can only accommodate 12% of their train capacity or 43 individuals per train car and 158 individuals per train set. For LRT 2, it’s only 10% of the total train capacity or 40 individuals per train car and 160 individuals per train set. In MRT 3, it’s only 13% of the full capacity of trains or 51 individuals per train car and 153 individuals per train set. Lastly, PNR can only accommodate 20% of their capacity or 148 persons per train car.
LOOK: The Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) has placed markers on areas inside the trains, as well as in the station…
TINGNAN: Lubos ang ginagawang paghahanda ng MRT-3 para sa pagbabalik-operasyon nito sa posibleng pagtatapos ng enhanced…
To ensure the health of every passenger, passengers who will exhibit the following will not be allowed to enter train stations: those who are not wearing face masks, those who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, those who registered 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher in body temperature, senior citizens, persons aged 20 and below and pregnant women due to their vulnerability to the virus.
Hand washing and disinfectants will be installed at all stations. Trains will be disinfected before and after one-way operation.
LOOK: The Philippine National Railways (PNR) conducts disinfection of the train interiors, to adhere the sanitary…
Visual materials will also be available. There will be use of Public Address (PA) system, Tv screens with infomercials in trains and stations.
Amid the upcoming changes in the new normal scheme because of COVID-19 pandemic, Filipinos are encouraged to use and promote the use bicycles and other modes of non-motorized transportation. These kinds of personal mobility devices will be ideal in travel as social distancing are strictly enforced in public transports.
Are you ready for the new normal? Please think twice.
Stay safe and sound!
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