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IATF to tackle concerns vs. reduced physical distancing in public transport

Government officials tasked to handle the COVID-19 response will meet on Tuesday to discuss concerns arising from the easing of physical distancing rules in public transport, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the new policy will be on the agenda of the Inter-Agency Task for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases' (IATF) meeting after some medical experts warned of a rise in infections.

“Hindi naman tayo magbi-bingihan sa mga opinyon ng ating mga medical frontliners so bubuksan po uli ang usapin tungkol dito,” Roque said in a televised briefing. “Pakikinggan po natin sila bukas.”

Roque said the objections to the policy came only after the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced its implementation beginning on Monday.

“‘Yung pagbabawas ng space o espasyo between passengers ay inaprubahan po ‘yan ng IATF dahil hindi natin mabubuksan ang ekonomiya kung hindi po natin dadadagdagan ang ating transportasyon,” he said.

DOTr Undersecretary Artemio Tuazon Jr. said the reduced physical distance in public transport was guided by a study made by the International Union of Railways. He also said the policy was a result of public clamor.

Instead of reducing one-meter physical distance between individuals, former National Task Force Against COVID-19 adviser Dr. Tony Leachon said that the government must deploy more jeeps and buses, as well as require government offices to provide shuttle service for their employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There will be no reopening of the economy unless you reduce the virus transmission. That is a basic tenet in epidemiology.  We always welcome the opening of the economy, but not at the expense of health standards,” Leachon said.

The Department of Health already issued a statement calling on the public “to participate in activities or use transport options that can afford at least one-meter distancing.” —KBK, GMA News