DOTr swiftly lifts public transport COVID safety protocols in compliance with Proclamation No. 297

The wearing of facemasks has long been a standing complaint from commuters. It seems they’re getting their way as the DOTr (Department of Transportation), has announced its compliance with PBBM’s Proclamation No. 297, which is to lift the COVID-19 state of public health emergency throughout the Philippines. That said, along with the face shields from years ago, masks are now a thing of the past, as is physical distancing and limited seating in all modes of public transportation.

Physical distancing, passenger limits in PUVs lifted by DOTr

Dotr Proclamation No. 297 Lifts Covid Safety Protocols Inline 01 Min

Photo: DOTr MRT-3

We can remember that in September of last year, PBBM issued Executive Order #3 that makes the wearing of face masks in open spaces and non-crowded outdoor areas optional, provided that physical distancing is observed. That seemed to be a cue for many to go back to the pre-pandemic days and started to go anywhere and everywhere unmasked, crowded areas or not.

The MMDA and the DOTr have been reminding the public to make safety a paramount concern, though. Earlier this year, the DOTr posted about the face mask mandate onboard the LRT, MRT, and PNR. But as we said, all these are now a thing of the past.

Dotr Proclamation No. 297 Lifts Covid Safety Protocols Inline 02 Min

Photo: PITX

Almost instantly after the issuance of Proclamation No. 297, DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista announced that “physical distancing protocols in public transportation is also lifted, and all passenger vehicles can continue to operate at full capacity.”

“This new development is a significant step towards normalizing public transportation and supporting economic recovery,” Bautista added.

The Secretary’s statement covers and mandates that all COVID-19 health protocols in public transportation systems in the country be lifted.

Dotr Proclamation No. 297 Lifts Covid Safety Protocols Inline 03 Min

Photo: PITX

In this time of readjustment, though, the agency also announced that it, along with its attached agencies, has been given directions to issue “appropriate implementing policies, rules, and regulations to take into consideration the lifting of the State of Public Health Emergency and the Order be implemented immediately”.

That said, DOTr‘s Bautista has assured the public that the frequent sanitization of public transportation will continue to prevent any potential health risks.

Not to be gloom and doom, or a wrench in the gears, but for the sake of everyone, we hope that this is not a premature mandate from the powers that be and that all government agencies will find ways to truly prevent an uncontrolled outbreak. It’s a virus, no one saw it coming the first time, and to be frank, no one can ever know if it will truly “go away” or if it has the potential to infect millions again.

That notwithstanding, our vigilance and prudence remain. Health and safety above all.

Mikko Juangco
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