MANILA (UPDATE) - Passengers will be allowed to sit next to each other in public utility vehicles provided that a plastic barrier is in between them and a UV light will be used for sanitation, the transport department said Wednesday.
Government earlier approved a one-seat apart policy to accommodate more commuters in a bid to resuscitate the economy.
"Effective immediately po ito...para po maitaas 'yung kasalukuyang kapasidad ng PUVs natin," Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(This is effective immediately...to increase the current capacity of our PUVs.)
"At meron pong option 'yan na payagang magkakatabi ang mga pasahero basta’t merong plastic barrier sa kanilang pagitan o di kaya gagamit sila ng UV light para sa disinfection."
(And there's an option to allow passengers to seat next to each other as long as there's a plastic barrier between them or a UV light will be used for disinfection.)
The agency will soon release a memorandum circular on the policy's guidelines, she added.
Professor Guido David, member of the OCTA Research Group analyzing coronavirus data in the country, warned against the policy, saying it could lead to over crowding.
"If we reduce this further and mamaya tabi-tabi na ang mga tao (make people seat close to each other), that could be a problem because we’ll now have overcrowding in public transport and we’ll know for a fact that overcrowding can lead to increased transmission of the virus," he told ANC's Headstart.
Over the weekend the department also opened additional routes for buses and jeepneys and allowed more roadworthy PUVs to operate, according to Libiran.
The DOTr also supports the extension of the pilot study of motorcycle taxis and is awaiting Congressional resolution, Libiran said.
"Nagbigay din po ng kautusan si Sec. (Arthur) Tugade na pabilisin 'yung proseso doon sa pag-approve ng shuttle services para madagdagan ang transportasyon ng mga manggagawa," she added.
(Sec. Tugade also ordered the agency to fast track its approval of shuttle services for additional transport for workers.)