Metro Manila community quarantine transportation restrictions: Here’s what you need to know

Robie de Guzman   •   March 14, 2020   •   1856

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Saturday, March 14 released a set of guidelines for public transportation restrictions during the implementation of the community quarantine in Metro Manila effective Sunday, March 15 to April 14.

Under the guidelines, drivers and operators of public utility vehicles need to observe the following passenger limit:

  • UV Express van should not have more than six (6) passengers including driver; passengers should be one seat apart.
  • Public jeepneys should not board more than half of their regular capacity including driver, passengers should be one seat apart
  • Public buses should not have more than 25 passengers including driver and conductor, without any standing passenger. Passengers should be one seat apart.
  • Taxis/Transportation Network Vehicle Services (TNVS), including accredited airport taxis should not have more than four passengers, including driver. One seat apart distance between passengers should be maintained.
  • Multiple bookings for a single trip provided by the TNVS is prohibited.

Provincial buses and inter-regional trips of jeepneys and UV Express traveling to and from Metro Manila shall be terminated on the entry points identified by the Philippine National Police (PNP). Buses and jeepneys will be waiting at these entry points for unloaded passengers from outside Metro Manila.

Drivers and conductors should also remind passengers to be ready to present valid company ID, which shows the address of workplace, and government-issued ID, which shows their place of residence.

Point-to-Point (P2P) Buses from Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Clark International Airport and Sangley Airport shall be allowed to operate as scheduled, subject to protocols or procedures of the Department of Health (DOH) and the PNP.

The guidelines also stated that the pilot implementation of motorcycle taxis is suspended during the quarantine.

Authorities also directed operators to inform their drivers and conductors to be observant of their passengers and bring them to the nearest hospital should they manifest any symptom of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including cough, fever and breathing difficulty. They are also required to report the incident to the DOH and the PNP for proper handling.

For train services, the guidelines state the following:

  • Trains and platform shall be loaded at reduced capacity of 25% to reduce the concentration of passengers per train. One-meter social distancing rule will also be maintained.
  • Women and senior citizens section of train cars will be further separated to designated a subsection for the elderly.
  • Philippine National Railways (PNR) operations from Alabang to Calamba in Laguna and vice versa is suspended during the quarantine period.
  • Trains, including its interiors, and station premises and surfaces frequently touched by the public will also have to be disinfected at least every loop or every time a train reaches its end-stations.

The guidelines also directed station personnel to regulate the entry of passengers from station platforms to trains.

For air travel, the guidelines state that:

  • All domestic flights to and from Metro Manila are suspended; exemptions include cargo flights air ambulance, and government supplies, government military flights, weather mitigation flights, and maintenance and utility flights.
  • General aviation flights are also suspended during the quarantine period, and will be diverted to Sangley Airport and Clark Airport.
  • Special airport-to-airport international flight arranged by the airlines, and coordinated with airport authorities are allowed.
  • Passengers of international/commercial flights may opt to terminate flight in Metro Manila, and arrange their own transport within the region
  • Local airlines will also be endeavored by Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to operate sweeper flights out of Manila and into other airports.

Issuance of access passes for visitors is suspended, and only passengers and essential personnel are allowed to enter and exit airport terminals.

The guidelines also stated that one-meter social distancing among passengers shall be observed.

For sea travel, the following measures shall be strictly implemented:

  • Passenger traffic in all ports going in and out of Metro Manila will be suspended during the quarantine period.
  • Ferry services within Metro Manila will continue to operate but with 50% capacity per vessel.
  • Ships plying routes within Metro Manila will be allowed to dock at ports outside the region upon application for the issuance of special permit with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).
  • Cargo vessels are still allowed to move to and from Metro Manila. Cargo trucks/vans going in and out of Port of Manila shall present a Cargo Entry/Withdrawal Permit secured from the Philippine Ports Authority for validation at designated checkpoints.
  • Foreign and domestic ships are directed to unload their wastes as the next port of call outside Metro Manila as waste reception services at the ports shall be suspended.

Authorities said the guidelines for transportation restrictions shall take effect immediately and shall be applicable until the declaration of public health emergency of international concern has been lifted.

The DOTr, however, stressed that these measures are subject to daily review and revision as necessary.

Gov’t OKs resumption of limited work in rail projects amid COVID-19 quarantine

Robie de Guzman   •   April 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The government has allowed the resumption of work in 13 rail projects amid the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, its task force in managing the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis said.

Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the resumption of utility relocation and specified limited works across 13 rail projects will include rail replacement and other works needed for the Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT-3).

“Aprubado na po ang request ng Department of Transportation (DOTr) na ituloy ang mga utility relocation works at iba pang trabaho sa 13 proyekto tulad ng pagpalit sa riles ng MRT 3 na magagawa lamang pag walang operasyon,” Nograles said in a virtual press briefing on Tuesday.

In a statement, the DOTr said the 13 rail projects are the following:

  • LRT-1 Cavite Extension
  • LRT-2 East Extension
  • LRT-2 West Extension
  • LRT-2 Fire Restoration
  • MRT-3 Rehabilitation
  • MRT-7
  • Metro Manila Subway
  • Common Station
  • PNR Clark 1
  • PNR Clark 2 and Calamba
  • Subic-Clark Railway
  • PNR Bicol
  • Mindanao Railway

The IATF, however, reminded the DOTr to observe limited mobilization of personnel and skeletal staffing pattern. Social distancing measures should also be implemented.

On- or near-site accommodations and point-to-point shuttle services should also be provided to workers.

Nograles also said that regular disinfection of workplaces, shuttles, and accommodations should also be conducted.

He also stressed the IATF’s advice on the regular monitoring of the workers’ health, especially those who are experiencing coronavirus symptoms.

The operations of mass transport have been suspended since President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The community quarantine was supposed to end on April 12 but it was extended until April 30.

To date, the Philippines has recorded 3,764 confirmed infections, with 177 fatalities and 84 total recoveries. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

7-year-old cancer patient allowed to travel to Cebu for treatment amid lockdown

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 7, 2020

The Port Management Office of Lanao del Norte has allowed a 7-year-old cancer patient to travel to Cebu for his treatment amid the community quarantine.

Iligan City was placed under community quarantine last March 16 to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the area.

In a statement, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said the patient left Iligan on April 5 through the assistance of the local government unit (LGU) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

The DOTr said that the community quarantine has caused a delay in the child’s medical check-up and it was imperative for them to allow him to travel to Cebu due to his already serious condition.

“Hindi na maaari pang ipagpaliban ang pagpapagamot sa bata dahil na rin sa kanyang maselang kalagayan (The child’s treatment can no longer be delayed because of his serious condition),” the DOTr said. AAC

Checkpoint gimmick gets residents to stay at home

Marje Pelayo   •   March 28, 2020

PAMPANGA, Philippines — Filipinos are known for their creativity and propensity to look on the brighter side of life when faced with any crisis.

Authorities found it a challenge to keep everyone inside their homes under the enhanced community quarantine when the risk of getting infected with the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is high.

To emphasize the importance of home quarantine, checkpoint police at Sto. Tomas in Pampanga thought of a drastic way to convince residents.

They placed an empty coffin at checkpoints and posted a grim reminder: “Stay at Home or Stay Inside.”

Meanwhile, Barangay Sto. Niño in the municipality of San Simon, Pampanga also made use of coffins to deter residents from violating the curfew.

They would make rounds at night carrying a coffin as if on the lookout to fill it with those who are foolish enough to cross their path beyond curfew hours.

Credits to: Louella Castillo Gutierrez

Police Regional Office 3 Director PBGen. Rhodel Sermonia expressed support for the initiative of his men as such measures would deter residents from violating home quarantine and community quarantine protocols.

Sermonia made rounds to inspect each checkpoint in his area and to personally remind motorists to practice preventive measures against COVID-19.

“Ikaw kuya? Wala ka man lang protective guard, hindi ba kayo natatakot? Hindi ba kayo natatakot dito? Sinabi na nga. Basahin mo, ano’ng nakalagay dyan (You? You are not even wearing a protective guard, are you not afraid? Are you not afraid of this? It’s a warning. You read it. What does it say?),” Sermonia said accosting a resident explaining the importance of wearing personal protective gear.  

“Bilhin mo na lahat ang gusto mong bilhin ngayon. Dapat isang beses lang sila sa isang araw. Kapag kayo na-infection, kawawa po kayo (You buy everything you need now. You should only be going out once a day. Once you get infected, you’d suffer),” he told a motorist who was on his way to buy goods.

The general also stressed strict practice of physical distancing among residents walking on the streets.

He personally checked each passerby for their home quarantine pass to make sure they were authorized to go out.

The national government’s enhanced community quarantine is on its 10th day which orders all residents in Luzon to stay at home to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Authorities appealed to the public to refrain from non-essential movements outside their homes to avoid contracting the disease. MNP (with inputs from Lea Ylagan)

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