Business groups have urged to gradually increase transport capacity safely to revitalize the domestic economy and restore livelihoods.
In a statement, the business groups suggested the gradual reopening of the transport capacity should be done in conjunction with the “The 7 Commandments” of public health measures proposed by an expert panel of doctors led by former DOH Secretary Dr. Manuel Dayrit.
“We recognize that most Filipinos still need to move around to reach their workplaces, meet essential daily needs, and provide assistance to the vulnerable sectors. Limiting public transportation encourages more crowding and longer queuing, which lead to further exposure to the virus. People should practice physical distancing where appropriate but be given alternative options to relax this requirement where the risks are manageable,” the groups statement said.
“We believe that the safe and gradual increase in public transport capacity is a critical step towards achieving the long-term objective of building a revitalized and more resilient Philippines.
To restart the economy safely, there is a need to immediately focus on rebuilding national confidence through vigilance, discipline, and education through the 5T’s Plan of which transportation is at present the key bottleneck.”
The three Ts include test, trace, test; transportation; and transformation. In view of these, the Business groups recommended that the government adopts “The 7 Commandments”, which their medical expert proponents believe allow us to manage viral transmissions well even when reducing physical distancing requirements. Backed by science and global best practices, this combination of health measures will be one of the strictest in the world and will enable better public transport.
The “7 Commandments” include wearing of proper face masks, wearing of face shields, no talking and no eating, adequate ventilation, frequent and proper disinfection, no symptomatic passengers, and appropriate physical distancing.
“We believe a combination of these measures will be amongst the most comprehensive in the world. By ensuring strict enforcement, we would be able to relax physical distancing requirements in order to increase our current public transport capacity, while minimizing the spread of the virus.
The group also agreed with Dr. Dayrit and the expert panel of doctors that “while WHO recommends keeping a distance of 1 meter from other passengers to the extent possible, it allows for adjustments
based on context. Given our other recommended health interventions, we propose the gradual reduction of the physical distancing norm during transit to 0.5 meters or lower. Based on our review of the scientific literature and the policies and experiences of neighboring countries, we believe the evidence shows physical distancing can be maintained below 1 meter, so long as other health measures are also implemented.”